Maori and Australian soldiers - Ian Thorpe (part 1)

Submitted by Editorial team on

Extracts from an interview with Paul Diamond, 9 November 2007

Reproduced with permission of Ian Thorpe

We had that great advantage which the Australians probably didn't understand of the mixture of Maori and Pakeha. In my experience Maori riflemen are great. They are extremely patient and things which Pakeha find irritable like being soaking wet or out without their proper gear or something, Maori soldiers on the whole, are much more patient and 'OK, I'm soaking wet'. You know, the consequences are distant and so on. And I've always found, not just in Vietnam, but that mixture is excellent because the better qualities of each ethnic group seem to develop. And I've always felt that.

I've argued with Sir Charles Bennett about this. He, like many Maori, said that if New Zealand ever went to war again, we should again form an exclusively Maori battalion and my impression is no, no, we get our greatest energy and success from the mix. And I would always look forward to having in any infantry in New Zealand a high proportion of Maori soldiers. Not that we can separate people these days. And this was an advantage which I don't think the Australians ever saw. They knew the New Zealand companies were, and we never emphasised this, but if you looked at statistics from success in combat in contact, the New Zealanders were more successful than the Australian.


Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage

How to cite this page: ' Maori and Australian soldiers - Ian Thorpe (part 1) ', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 10-Sep-2013