Somme hero al­ways re­mem­bered

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE -

FLASH­BACK

An­other Somme Flash­back and this one has mod­ern-day con­nec­tions to a mile­stone wed­ding an­niver­sary re­ported by KapiMana News in 2011.

Frank Tararo was born Tu­taka Mat­a­puta Tararo on the is­land of Mauke in Raro­tonga on Fe­bru­ary 25, 1895.

He came to New Zealand with the Grove fam­ily, who had traded in the Pa­cific, and lived near One Tree Hill in Auck­land.

En­list­ing in the New Zealand Ex­pe­di­tionary Force in 1915, he was given the name Frank. He was part of the 1st Raro­ton­gan Con­tin­gent, at­tached to the Maori Bat­tal­ion.

Tararo ar­rived in Egypt with the 3rd Maori Re­in­force­ments in March 1916. They were in­cor­po­rated into the New Zealand Pioneers.

The next month he and the other Cook Is­lan­ders were sent to France, even though there was con­cerns the men from the Pa­cific would not han­dle the cold Euro­pean cli­mate well.

As the prepa­ra­tions for the New Zealand Di­vi­sion’s in­volve­ment in the Somme be­gan in Au­gust, the Pioneers’ job was to build an 8km com­mu­ni­ca­tions trench. The work took a heavy toll on them, as they were ex­posed to not only Ger­man fire but mumps, measles and in­fluenza.

On Septem­ber 15, the Pioneers went ‘‘over the top’’ for the first time. Tararo re­called car­ry­ing a fel­low Cook Is­land Maori com­rade back to the Al­lied trenches un­der fire on Septem­ber 30 - the man died in his arms.

An­other, Pri­vate Ataataiva, fell while un­der bom­bard­ment. Al­though he called, ‘‘Kimia mai na ou ora e Pe (Save your­self my friend)’’, Tararo got to him and car­ried him to safety.

The brav­ery of the Raro­ton­gan sol­diers was men­tioned in despatches dur­ing the Somme.

Tararo was badly wounded in a lat­ter part of the bat­tle and lay in the trenches with­out aid for many days.

Shrap­nel had shred­ded one of his arms and both hands, but the win­try con­di­tions pre­vented the on­set of gan­grene.

The New Zealand Di­vi­sion was with­drawn from the Somme in mid-Oc­to­ber and a month later Tararo was evac­u­ated to Eng­land. His arm was am­pu­tated at the shoul­der.

In Oc­to­ber 1917 Tararo was dis­charged and re­turned to pri­vate life, in­di­cat­ing he would live once again with the Grove fam­ily.

He re­turned to Mauke in 1925 and mar­ried the widow of his older brother. By all ac­counts he coped well with one arm, plant­ing the land and fish­ing.

He was so fit that his war pen­sion was re­moved for a time, be­fore an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was car­ried out and it was re­in­stated.

Tararo’s el­dest son Ten­gaepu moved to New Zealand in 1961. Talk­ing to Kapi-Mana News on the sub­ject of his 55th wed­ding an­niver­sary to wife Te­t­u­anui, he said fam­ily and love made any hard­ships in life worth it.

Their house was one of the last on War­spite Ave, with only pad­docks be­yond them.

Frank Tararo re­turned to New Zealand in 1967, where he spent five years. He fondly told his fam­ily of meet­ing old and new friends at RSAs and bars in Welling­ton and Porirua, and never hav­ing to buy a drink on Anzac Day.

He re­turned to Mauke in 1972 and died there on Au­gust 5, 1973. He was the only Mauke mem­ber of the Pioneer to re­turn to the is­land.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Frank Tararo, taken some time in the 1960s.

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