Charles Moihi Bennett

Te Arawa

1913 - 1998

Charles Bennett was born in Rotorua, the son of the first Bishop of Aotearoa, Frederick Augustus Bennett and Arihia Rangioue née Hemana. He was educated at Maketu Primary School and Te Aute College and pursued further study at Christchurch Teachers’ Training College and the University of Canterbury. He graduated with a B.A. and Dip Ed in 1938. Bennett worked as a primary school teacher in 1938 and later worked on the announcing staff of 2YA. He served in the 2 NZEF, 28th (Māori) Battalion in Greece, Crete and North Africa from 1939-45 and rose to the position of Lt. Colonel to command the 28th Māori Battalion. He was awarded the DSO. He worked for the War Histories Branch in the Internal Affairs Department from From 1947-57 Bennett was Assistant Controller and then Controller of the Māori Welfare Department of Māori Affairs. In 1955 he graduated from Victoria University with an M.A. and Dip. Social Science. He studied at Exeter College at Oxford University from 1957-58 as the recipient of the first post-graduate scholarship awarded by Ngarimu VC Scholarship Fund Board. Bennett was High Commissioner in Malaysia from 1959-63 and in 1964 was the first non-Malayan to be awarded a Malayan Knighthood. From 1963-71 he was Assistant Secretary of the Māori Affairs Department until his retirement after some 37 years of service in the Public Service. Bennett was awarded an Hon LLD in 1974 and was knighted in 1975.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence with Sir Charles Bennett, 17 May 1993 and 29 May 1998.
  • Te Ao Hou 15 (1956): 12
  • Te Ao Hou 21 (1957): 63.
  • Te Ao Hou 43 (1963): 5, 35
  • Te Ao Hou 66 (1969): 28,42.
  • Who’s Who in New Zealand. 12th ed. Ed. Max Lambert. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1991. 50.


  • "When The Māoris Come Home Again?" New Zealand Listener 24 Nov. 1944: 11.
  • Bennett discusses the Māori Battalion and broadcasting during the war. The interview ends with Bennett recounting the Māori victory against the Panzer Grenadiers which he asserts was "an African variation on Gate Pa: succouring the enemy to enable him to fight on."
  • "The Māori Education Foundation." New Zealand Listener: Radio and Television 25 May, 1962. 10.
  • The text of Bennett’s talk broadcast on the YA and YZ stations on May 6, 1962. Bennett explains why the Māori Education Foundation is necessary.
  • Reviews

  • Rev. of Vikings of the Sunrise, by Sir Peter Buck. Te Ao Hou 10 (1955): 48.


  • "Gone To England To Study." Te Ao Hou 21 (1957): 63.
  • "Mr C. M. Bennett Returns to N. S." Te Ao Hou 43 (1963): 5, 35.
  • "Retirement of Colonel Bennett." Te Ao Hou 66 (1969): 28, 42.
  • Reviews

  • "Towards a Welfare Programme." Te Ao Hou 18 (1957): 6-9.
  • This is a review in Māori and English of Bennett’s written statement concerning the work of welfare officers and the guiding principles for tribal committees which he made when first appointed controller of Māori welfare.