National | 28th Māori Battalion

B Company veteren to attend Italian doco premiere

B Company veteran Robert Gillies of the 28th Māori Battalion is one of the guests that will be attending the premier of "Kia Ora" an Italian documentary on the Māori Battalion's campaign in Italy WWII.

Supporting him is a contingent of the Te Arawa Returned Services League and whānau members of B Company.

Each year, the Te Arawa Returned Services League members turn up to prepare for ANZAC day at Muruika.

But this year a group of them will be heading to Wellington on Thursday to support one of their own.

Laurie Morrison, who will be heading to Wellington says, “when they found out the Bon Gillies was coming with us they were absolutely astounded.  They pulled out all the stops to make sure that we got there and that everything was there for us really”.

A group of twelve kaumatua, which will include Robert Gillies- the last man standing for B Company, are supporting the premiere of an Italian documentary based around the role the 28th Māori Battalion played in the war.

“He's such a humble man and I just said to him, 'look Matua, this is an opportunity of a lifetime', and he was great then we organised for his mokopuna to go down as well”.

Almost 3,600 men served overseas with the Māori Battalion between 1940 and 1945.

Of these, 649 were killed in action or died in active service.

“We understood that the Māori Battalion had played a role but it was really nice for the Corsini family to actually be there to talk to Bonbon Gillies,” says Morrison.

The premiere is to take place at Te Herenga Waka Marae on Thursday at 6pm.