Gisborne celebrates local hero

Gisborne welcomes Farmlands’ HeART of the Community project and Mr G.

Farmlands Gisborne was given more than just a splash of colour recently, as Mr G worked his magic on the fourth HeART of the Community piece of art.

The inspiration for the artwork came from staff at Farmlands Gisborne, who are immensely proud of their community and what makes it special. The mural includes the Tolaga Bay wharf, Rere Falls and an amazing portrait of Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu, the first M ori recipient of a Victoria Cross.

Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa, affectionately known as Mo, was born at his family farm at Whareponga in 1918. He attended Whareponga and Hiruharama School, before finishing with 2 years at Te Aute in Hawke’s Bay. Mo returned to work on the Whareponga farm for 4 years and also played rugby union for the Hikurangi team and participated in the Hikurangi Parish Choir.

At age 21, he went to fight in World War II as a member of the 28th Maori Battalion. He was killed in 1943 while valiantly defending a position they had captured from German forces in Tunisia. He received the Victoria Cross posthumously in 1943.

Mo’s legacy continues in the form of a scholarship to promote Maori education – and even though he is buried at Sfax in Tunisia, his memory lives on in the community.

Mr G says painting Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa was a “humbling” experience for him. “It has been a huge honour for me to be permitted and entrusted by the family to paint the portrait in honour of him and the entire Maori Battalion.”

Farmlands is proud to be able to keep the memory of this important past alive for future generations and highlight the unique identities of New Zealand’s rural communities as part of the HeART of the Community project.