Charles Bennett (high commissioner)
Sir Charles Bennett
|23rd President of the Labour Party|
8 May 1973 – 11 May 1976
|Vice President||Eddie Isbey|
|Preceded by||Bill Rowling|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Faulkner|
|2nd High Commissioner to Malaya|
30 January 1959 – 21 May 1963
|Prime Minister||Walter Nash|
|Preceded by||Foss Shanahan|
|Succeeded by||Hunter Wade|
|Born||27 July 1913|
Rotorua, New Zealand
|Died||26 November 1998 (aged 85)|
Tauranga, New Zealand
|Relatives||Frederick Bennett (father)|
Manuhuia Bennett (brother)
|Alma mater||Canterbury University College|
Bennett was born in Rotorua, New Zealand on 27 July 1913, one of 19 children of Frederick Augustus Bennett of Ngati Whakaue of Te Arawa, who became first Anglican Māori bishop of Aotearoa, and his second wife, Arihia Ngarangioue (Rangioue) Hemana (or Pokiha).
From the age of six months to thirteen years Charles was raised by his grandparents at Maketu. He won a scholarship to Te Aute College, where he was a distinguished student, head prefect and footballer. He obtained a BA in 1936 from Canterbury University College.
World War II
Greece and Crete
Charles Bennett joined the 28th (Maori) Battalion at the outbreak of war in 1939. He underwent officer training at Trentham Military Camp, embarking overseas in May 1940 as a second lieutenant in B Company. On Lieutenant-Colonel George Dittmer's staff he fought in Greece and Crete. He led an intelligence unit responsible for reconnaissance, speaking on the radio in Maori. In November 1941 Bennett was promoted to captain.
By October 1942 Bennett was a major commanding B Company. Early in November his two superiors were wounded in fighting near Tel el Aqqaqir, and Bennett then commanded the Māori Battalion, being promoted lieutenant-colonel (the youngest battalion commander in the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force).
In March 1943 at Tebaga Gap, Tunisia, Bennett ordered a successful attack on Point 209 (Hikurangi to the Māori) which resulted in Lieutenant Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu being awarded a posthumous VC, and Bennett the DSO.
With Major-General Howard Kippenberger Bennett worked on the Māori Battalion's history with the War History Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. He became an interpreter at Internal Affairs.
Bennett won a University of Oxford scholarship from the Ngarimu VC and 28th (Māori) Battalion Memorial Scholarship Fund to read for a doctorate on the problems of cultural adjustment of the Māori people. Although the thesis was not completed, in January 1959 he became New Zealand's high commissioner to the Federation of Malaya (later Malaysia). In 1963, he was made an honorary Commander of the Order of the Defender of the Realm by the Malay government.
Bennett was awarded an honorary doctorate (LL.D.) from the University of Canterbury in 1973. In the 1975 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Knight Bachelor, for public services, especially to the Māori people, and in 1990 he received the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal. He was a patron of the Electoral Reform Coalition.
Bennett died in Tauranga on 26 November 1998. He was survived by his wife and her two children. During the tangihanga, the traditional Māori funeral rite, the New Zealand Defence Force announced that their crest will be changed from the traditional two crossed swords to a sword crossed with a taiaha, the traditional Māori weapon, in Bennett's honour.
- Ballara, Angela. "Charles Moihi Te Arawaka Bennett". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
- "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1963" (PDF).
- "Honorary Graduates" (PDF). University of Canterbury. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- "No. 46595". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 14 June 1975. p. 7405.
- Taylor, Alister; Coddington, Deborah (1994). Honoured by the Queen – New Zealand. Auckland: New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa. p. 64. ISBN 0-908578-34-2.
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|Party political offices|
| President of the Labour Party
| High Commissioner to Malaya