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Sonny Sewell in Crete, 2001


Sonny Sewell (1924–2008) stands in front of the 28th (Maori) Battalion display at the Maritime Museum in Chania (Canea). He was part of an official party of New Zealand Crete veterans and dignitaries who returned to the island in May 2001 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the battle.

Sewell (also known as Rangitepuru Waretini) served with B Company of 28th Battalion on Crete. He was with the battalion at 42nd Street on 27 May 1941 when Māori soldiers took part in a famous bayonet charge against the Germans. The 17-year-old was acting as company runner when Captain Rangi Royal gave the order to charge:

He blew his whistle, and no bugger moved. It wasn’t until he blew it again and he [Royal] jumped up himself … Sam O’Brien from Te Puke got up with him and started to ‘mea’ with his rifle [demonstrates use of the rifle like a taiaha]. You wouldn’t think he was a soldier at all ... He had two left feet ... But oh, something must have stirred inside him, I suppose, when he got up and did this. Rangi just raised his staff and went like that [pointed his staff in the direction of the enemy] ‘Chaaarge!’ And there’s Sam doing like a wero next to him. And of course every body just got up and into it ... And boy, you get these Tuhoe fullas yelling in Maori not in English.

Private Rangitepuru Waretini (Sonny Sewell), 28th (Maori) Battalion, in Monty Soutar, Nga tama toa: the price of citizenship, 2008, pp. 147–8


Megan Hutching, 2001

How to cite this page

Sonny Sewell in Crete, 2001, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated