Ash & Matt’s story from Te Arawhata

Nau mai, haere mai ki Le Quesnoy

Ashleigh Bolton and Matt Deverell visited Te Arawhata as a way of connecting with their ancestors and honouring their stories.

With her great grandad fighting at Le Quesnoy during the liberation, the town holds a special significance for Ashleigh, and Matt’s great great grandfather died in the Somme.

Here, in both te reo Māori and English, they share their experiences of the museum and the importance to them of whakapapa.


Tell us about yourselves?

Ko te mihi tuatahi ki ō māua tīpuna. Nā rātou te ara i hīkoi.

Our first thanks is to our ancestors who have walked this path before us. 

Ngā mihi nunui ki a Jean-Phillipe rāua ko Charlotte, Nā rāua māua i manaaki. Nā rāua ō māua whatu i whakatūwhera ki Le Quesnoy, ā, ki ngā pūrakau e pā ana ki ngā pakanga. 

A big thanks to Jean-Philippe and Charlotte from the Association Les Quesnoy who were incredible hosts and opened our eyes to Le Quesnoy and stories of the wars in the area. 

Ko Ashleigh māua ko Matt ō māua ingoa.

We are Ashleigh and Matt.

Where are you from?

Nō Ingarani me Kotīrana ō māua tīpuna. Heoi anō, I tipu ake ētahi reanga ki Aotearoa.

Both of our ancestors come from England and Scotland. However, we have had many generations grow up in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

E rere ana ō māua mihi ki ngā tāngata whenua o Aotearoa. He taonga te noho ki Aotearoa.

We acknowledge Māori, indigenous people of Aotearoa/New Zealand for the gift of growing up in Aotearoa. 


What brought you to Te Arawhata?

Ko te maumahara kore ki ngā whakapapa o ōu mātua tīpuna, e rite ana ki te pūkaki awa, kāore ōna hikuawa, ki te rākau rānei kāore ōna pakiaka.

To forget your whakapapa is like a stream without a source, a tree without roots.

This whakatauikī / Māori proverb is important to us and what led us to travel to Le Quesnoy and the surrounding areas.

My (Ashleigh) great grandfather fought to liberate Le Quesnoy and I grew up hearing about the story. My grandparents visited many years ago and talked about it fondly. Matt’s great great grandfather fought in the battle of the Somme and is buried in Flers. It is important to us to visit these places to connect to our ancestors and honour their stories.

Jean-Philippe and Charlotte warmly welcomed and hosted us in Le Quesnoy. Jean Phillipe took us on a tour of the ramparts and where New Zealand soldiers were able to enter the town via the ladder. 

He also drove us to where Matt’s ancestor lays. It was an incredibly special and memorable two days, which we will treasure. 

As part of our trip, we were excited about the recent opening of Te Arawhata and this beautiful museum helped to extend our learning and story of Le Quesnoy. 

What was the most memorable part of your visit to Te Arawhata?

We both really liked the beautifully designed Arawhata/ladder and pūrakau/story behind it. The life-like solider was very powerful, you could almost feel what he had seen with the distant look in his eyes. The visit was an incredible addition to our trip and we learnt so much. 

Ngā mihi ki Te whare Arawhata, ā, ki ngā tāngata kua whakataua, kua whakaritea te whare nei. Thanks to those who opened and organised the opening of Te Arawhata. 

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