May 17, 2019
Cassino heartbreak remembered on battle site
Commemorations have been held for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino, where almost all the New Zealand Division were killed trying to seize the monastery town southwest of Rome.
The 28 Māori Battalion played a crucial role in the campaign, including taking high losses during an attack on the town’s railway station.
Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene, who is in Italy as part of a delegation of Māori kiwifruit growers heading for the opening of a new Zespri office in Bologna, is attending the National Commemorative Service in Cassino organised by the New Zealand Defence Force.
He says it was humbling to be in a place that looms so large in the tales of Māori at war.
"It was a Allied contribution to the freedom of the Italians and of course the 28 Māori Battalion was central to the Battle of Cassino so we have a lot of our whānau, our Māori people here at Cassino along with people from all over the world and yes it is humbling and heart wrenching as well," Mr Tipene says.
That wartime contribution forms part of the relationship New Zealand and Zespri has with Italy, which is an important part of the kiwifruit sector.
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