Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery
Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history
Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history Poverty Bay - taonga maori
Tairawhiti Museum and Art Gallery Rich in Gisborne, East Coast history

Poverty Bay - taonga maori

C Company

The C Company Memorial House is situated near the entrance to the Tairāwhiti Museum. It is open Tuesday to Saturday, 12-3pm excluding public holidays. Entry is free. More information can be found at www.ngatamatoa.co.nz


We were delighted on Saturday 15 November to attend the opening of the C Company building and welcome our new neighbours into the complex. There were approximately 3,000 people at the opening who came from far and wide to celebrate this milestone in the history of C Company. This building is the culmination of hard work and dedication by the Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust. There were many who put heart and soul into seeing this project through to completion and the final product is a credit to the Trust and an appropriate acknowledgement of the duty and sacrifice of so many young men from Tairāwhiti.



The C Company exhibition within the Tairawhiti Museum has been decomissioned. The material previously on display is now being readied for a new display that will reside in the new C Company building alongside the museum.

BIG DAY PLANNED: The official opening of C Company House in mid-November will be a big day and thousands are expected to attend it. The photographs to be displayed in the new building are going up. Boys’ High student Eparaima Soutar (left) prepares to hang a picture of his great-grandfather Rota Waipara, with Tairawhiti Museum staff member Jonty Hall. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell.

THOUSANDS of people are expected at the ceremonial opening of C Company House next to Tairawhiti Museum in mid-November, with a parade and concert all linked with the Farmers Market.

Gisborne District Council has advertised proposed road closures for the Saturday November 15 opening.

Fitzherbert Street will be shut from Ormond Road, the Peel Street bridge closed to traffic and Stout Street closed from Fitzherbert to Whitmore Streets.

“We are expecting more than 5000 people to take part in the opening ceremonies,” says Nga Tama Toa Trust historian Dr Monty Soutar.

The huge day will start with a parade from Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae to the museum at 8am and 2000 are expected to ‘‘fall in’’ for that.

The parade will include 60 serving soldiers kitted out in World War 1 equipment supplied by film-maker Sir Peter Jackson.

“The other marchers will include whanau of the C Company veterans carrying photographs, and family of all Tairawhiti soldiers who have served in all the wars, both Maori and Pakeha, also carrying photographs,” Dr Soutar says.

“With all that activity we need as much space as possible to cater for the event.”

Every marae in the region has been invited to take part.

“Every marae (80 in total) who gave soldiers to the Maori Battalion has been invited to take part in the parade,” he says.

“We have had indications from a whole lot of other armed services units from all the wars who will be represented in the parade.

“It is going to be a marvellously representative occasion.”

The Farmers Market will still operate, but in a slightly different location.

“We will be based on the piece of Fitzherbert Street outside the council chambers,” says market co-ordinator Andrea Gregory.

“We have worked with the committee organising the opening of C Company House right from the very beginning.

“It’s all going to be fine and dandy, and the market will ‘soldier on’ as it normally does,” Mrs Gregory says.

“We don’t expect access to be an issue for our customers and they are getting plenty of early warning about the plans for the day.”

With so many extra people around for the opening, it’s a perfect opportunity for those who sell at the Farmers Market to showcase the region’s produce to a wider clientelle, she says.

“All the people there will need to eat, and the market provides the perfect place for them to do that,” Dr Soutar says.

The opening will start at 9am on November 15.

“We will have a range of speakers before the ribbon is cut, then the Maori version of the book Nga Tama Toa will be officially launched,” he says.

“We will follow the opening, which should finish by 1pm, with a concert in Kelvin Park.”

Dr Soutar says Maori and Pakeha who had relatives serve in any of the wars were able to display photographs of their loved ones in C Company House.

“They can bring those photographs on the day but if they want to have them hung before the opening, they need to bring them into the museum sooner rather than later.

“We are still looking for more photographs.”

The opening on November 15 has been timed almost to the day that 60 Maori soldiers left Gisborne as members of the Maori contingent in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in l914.

“That’s the significance of the 60 who will march in the parade on opening day.”

Finishing touches are now being put to the interior of the C Company House.

The Tairawhiti Museum is honoured to be working in partnership with the C. Company Trust Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust to celebrate the men and memories of the C. Company, Maori (28) Battalion.

The Maori Battalion was organised on a tribal basis where the C. Company was comprised of men from an area between Torere in the Eastern Bay of Plenty to Paritu, located 40 kilometres south of Gisborne. Nearly one thousand men served with the C. Company, including Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

The Price of Citizenship is a moving tribute to the men who gave and risked their lives for the World War Two Allied war effort. A main component of this display is a wall of photographs displaying images of  the C. Company soldiers. Around 90% of the named soldiers have accompanying photographs and it is hoped that one day this wall may be complete.

Exhibition - update

New Exhibitioned opened Saturday 27 March 2010

Dr Apirana Mahuika, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Tairawhiti Museum, welcomes the C Company veterans and C Company whanau to the re-opening of The Price of Citizenship.

The entrance to The Price of Citizenship includes an enlarged photogrpah of C Company soldiers performing a haka and acknowledgement of Sir Apirana Ngata as the 'father of the battalion'.


A book compiled by Monty Soutar covering the history of C.Company is now available. Nga Tama Toa is available here...



  C Company/ANZAC Gallery Project 
When the C Company exhibition The Price of Citizenship was closed in 2008 Tairawhiti Museum and Nga Taonga a Nga Tamataoa Trust agreed to launch a project to raise funds to build a new gallery to house the C Company exhibition. It was also agreed that an accompanying exhibition celebrating the contribution of all Tairawhiti military personnel who have served overseas would be part of this new gallery. Plans for the new gallery and the exhibitions to be housed therein are currently being developed.

        C. Company exhibit 2008

        C. Company exhibit 2008

         C. Company exhibit 1996

                C. Company exhibit 2000

         C. Company exhibit Auckland Museum 1998

         C. Company exhibit Te Kaha 1999

       C. Company exhibit Ruakaka, Tolaga Bay 2002

       C.Company in schools 2007