16/192 Private Raha Nopera – NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion

Te Raha Mohi Nopera was born on 21st March 1883 in Nelson.[i]  On enlistment Raha gave Mohi Nopera, Temuka,
Timaru as his next of kin and that he was employed labouring for Mr Connell, Washdyke, Timaru.

16/192 Private Nopera was sent with the other 499 men who
made up the 1st Maori Contingent to the Avondale Race Course
for training. Following training the 1st Maori Contingent was
entrained to Wellington where the men were loaded on
HMNZ Transport Warrimoo leaving for Egypt on 14th February

                             HMNZT 20  (Warrimoo

The 1st Maori Contingent arrived in Egypt on 26th March 1915
and initially was engaged in training and as garrison troops
freeing up Pakeha troops for combat[ii]. Private Nopera’s military
papers note he was admitted to hospital on Malta with a viral
infection on 13th April 1915 and remained in hospital until the
17th May 1915 returning to duty in time to be sent to the
Dardanelles. The Maori Contingent landed at Anzac Cove on
3 July 1915; here they joined the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, who were being deployed as infantry on the peninsula.

                                                                                                      On the 6th August 1915 the Maori Contingent was committed                                                                                                                to the initial assaults in the Battle of Chunuk Bair. Private Nopera                                                                                                          was wounded, a gunshot wound to the elbow and was evacuated                                                                                                        to Egypt for treatment. Six weeks later Private Nopera returned to                                                                                                        his unit at ANZAC Cove. On 4th November 1915 Private Nopera                                                                                                            was evacuated a second time, this time to Murdos where he was                                                                                                          admitted to the No2 General Australian Hospital with influenza.                                                                                                            Following treatment at Murdos and Egypt Private Nopera                                                                                                                        returned to ANZAC Cover for a third time. For a third time
                                                                                                      Private Nopera was evacuated as part of the withdrawal from                                                                                                                Gallipoli, arriving in Egypt on 27th December 1915.

                                                                                                                    ​Maori Contingent preparing for action 6th August 1915

The impact of the campaign and the ongoing viral infection resulted in Private Nopera being admitted to hospital remaining there until 10th March 1916. The Maori Contingents and elements of the Otago Mounted Rifles were formed into the NZ Pioneer Battalion and Private Nopera left with the unit of 9th April 1916 for France.

Private Nopera was granted leave in January 1917 and while on leave was admitted to hospital in England with bronchitis and did not rejoin his unit until the 22nd April 1917. Private Nopera was evacuated to hospital in England on 9th June 1917, with inflammation of the lungs; he remained in England until 26th August 1917 when he returned to the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion.

On 12th December 1918 Private Nopera was again evacuated from France this time admitted to the Lewisham Military Hospital with a severely strained back. Private Nopera had recovered sufficiently by May 1918 to return to service but before he could go back to France was readmitted to hospital in June 1918 with pneumonia. Private Nopera eventually returned to the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion on 24th October 1918 just prior to the Armistice signing on 11th November 1918.

The NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion was one of the few NZEF elements that returned to New Zealand as a whole unit leaving Liverpool on SS Westmoreland on 28th February 1919. While at sea Private Nopera had a reoccurrence of the viral infection caught in Egypt in 1914, he was admitted to Auckland Hospital on arrival in New Zealand and later transferred as an outpatient to the Timaru Hospital.

On 2nd November 1919 Private Nopera was placed on indefinite leave without pay[iii].

Te Raha Mohi Nopera had moved to the Wellington area by 1922 as the Evening Post 28th September 1922 noted him, Te Raha Mohi Nopera of Wellington, Turama Mohi Nopera of Koputaroa and Wikitoria Mohi Nopera of Temuka being lessors of land leased by Joshua David Prosser, Sheep farmer of Porirua[iv].

On 17th September 1941 the Evening Post carried the following report

A large gathering of relatives and friends of the late Mr Raha Nopera met at the Porirua Pas last Sunday to pay their last respects to his memory. The deceased was a Maori veteran of the Greta War, having fought and been wounded on Gallipoli, When the call for Home Guard recruits came the late Mr Nopera was among the earliest to enlist and joined the Titahi Bay mounted unit. The funeral took place on Sunday in the Maori Cemetery.
The Titahi Bay unit providing a firing party and pall bearers under Platoon Commander Thornton. Members of the Titahi Bay platoon, the mounted unit, and the Returned Soldiers Association followed the cortege to the cemetery after a short service in the Pa conducted by Mr George Katene. At the graveside Corporal Melville read the funeral service. Bugler F Martin sounded the Last Post and the Reveille.

Maori and the First World War: NZ History Online
Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand

HMNZT 20 (Warrimoo) leaving Wellington with the 1st Maori Contingent
NZ Maori preparing for combat 6th August 1915
                                                               Titahi Bay Mounted Home Guard 1940

[i] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/192 Private Raha Nopera
[ii] Maori and the First World War: NZ History online
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 16/192 Private Raha Nopera
[iv] Advertisements, 28th September 1922
Maori Contingent 6th August 1915