Inia Whangataua ‘Mac’ Maaka – Air Bomber, Yates crew. Time to return home………


P/O Inia Whangataua ‘Mac’ Maaka, RNZAF NZ421741 – Air Bomber with the Yates crew, 1944.

David, Son of Harry Yates in a very generous and noble act has passed to me the above photograph of Inia ‘Mac’ Makka. Mac was Harry’s Air Bomber throughout their tour with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF during the second half of 1944.

The photograph of Mac is almost A4 in size (10 x 8 old money) and is original, still being in the card folder that it was first mounted in. On the outside cover of the mount is the name of the photographic studio – “Du Barry Studios” – this is obviously a very good quality, posed studio portrait.

David believes that the photograph was sent to his Father at the time he was researching his book ‘Luck and a Lancaster’, probably by Mac’s wife June. David discovered it in a folder of photographs that had been sent to Airlife Publishing for the book. Unused in the book, it remained in the folder with the other images, until it’s recent discovery by David.

David’s wish is that, if possible, Mac’s portrait should be returned to his descendants. As he says in the letter accompanying the portrait:

“If one of the Maaka family comes forward, having seen your post, or perhaps someone connected to the old 75 grapevine in NZ knows the whereabouts of one of Mac and June’s children, then it would be a service to Mac’s memory to have the portrait placed in their hands.

My Dad would have wanted that too…..”

So, please blog readers – put out this request and lets collectively cross our fingers that a descendant of Inia Whangataua ‘Mac’ Maaka can be found – as I soon as I hear from them, we can return this wonderful portrait to them.

I’ll finish with Harry’s memory of his dear comrade ‘Mac’ Maaka:

“As he talked, my impressions of him became ever more favourable. No Englishman I’d met was so sincere and guileless about himself. Mac was simply a stranger to the inner tensions and vanities that make liars of the rest of us. He was mightily proud of his people who, I thought, must be formidable opponents in war if they were all like this chap. I began to see in him a military paragon. He had the heart of a lion. I don’t think he was afraid of anything or any man. He had no need to be because he was built like a bunker. I felt that his loyalty would be a rich prize, if one deserved it. He was just the sort of chap one imagines walking steadfastly into the enemy’s fire for the sake of his comrades. Well, the skies over Germany were fiery enough. Mac would be an example to us all.”

8 thoughts on “Inia Whangataua ‘Mac’ Maaka – Air Bomber, Yates crew. Time to return home………

  1. Zane Kirk

    Hi David
    I spoke to June Maaka in 2010 and she was lovely. However, the next time I spoke to her she seemed to have gone down hill somewhat and couldn’t remember who I was. She was living in Napier. I also spoke to her daughter (Ann I think her name was) who gave me her email address but I have misplaced it. I know she was living in Hawaii at the time and may well still be there. No address for her unfortunately.
    I was doing some research for a book about my father, Jim Kirk, who served as a rear gunner on 75 Squadron. While Mac flew with as your father’s air bomber (bomb aimer) this was not his original crew. Mac actually did his first stint of operational training with my father’s crew skippered by Ian Blance.
    At the end of OTU the crew were told they were being posted to India rather than the European Theatre of Operations and a bomb aimer was surplus to requirements. The crew then went on leave before preparing for the move to India. Mac then did another stint of operational training at 11 OTU with your dad’s crew.
    My father’s crew were very disappointed to lose a man of Mac ability, and were doubly annoyed when returning from leave they were told they weren’t going to India after all and they’d be assigned another bomb aimer when they reached a heavy conversion unit.
    Their new bomb aimer was Ronald Spencer (RAF) and he and three others on dad’s crew were killed returning from a raid on Stuttgart 28/29 July 44. This could easily have been Mac’s fate but events conspired to save him from such a tragic end.
    Mac remained good friends with Colin Grieg, dad’s navigator, after the war and Colin was in fact best man at Mac and June’s wedding.
    I hope this gives you a bit more insight. Just sorry I can’t find the email address for Mac’s daughter. Ill have a look for the Napier address but I have a feeling June has since passed on.
    Zane Kirk

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David Yates

    First, thanks to Simon for this post, which says everything I would have wanted to say, and more. I hope now that, with or without the kind help of Chris (or anyone else here), Margaret or Graham Maaka will contact Simon so that, as is only right, they can have and hold this important memento of their father, who was very dear to my own father. I apologise to them both for not locating it earlier – and only did so now because Simon had asked for a particular original photo from my father’s book which took some finding!

    Zane, that is great information. I had no idea that Mac was assigned to a crew before Bill Birnie recruited him at OTU, and that lady luck delivered him from Ronald Spencer’s fate. There is so much that remains to be told of those extraordinary times.


  3. Chris Newey

    Thanks David, and Zane. Hoping that Margaret’s 2013 email address is still in use. And great to hear that another 75 (NZ) Sqdn book is in the offing ..!


  4. Margaret Maaka

    Kia ora koutou:

    My thanks to all of you for connecting. I very much appreciate your efforts.

    To David: Your father, was indeed, my father’s very dear wartime mate/pilot. Mac spoke very fondly of Harry and his leadership and this mutual respect and admiration is documented in your father’s book “Luck and a Lancaster.” One of the post-war highlights for Mac (and June) was the opportunity to reunite with his crew in England in 1978. At the time, I believe that theirs was the only full crew still living. Sadly, they have all passed. I have a photo of all of them. I believe that it was taken in Mepal.

    As I mentioned to Simon (Sommerville), when I was growing up, Mac very rarely spoke of the war, that is, until he got together with all his mates from the 75th and, then, they would recount all their antics over a good supply of beer or whiskey (and, most often, with great laughter). In the absence of psychotherapy, I think this was the strategy that they used to work through the terrors of their experiences. I do recall Mac telling me very graphically about feeling the flak reverberating on the underside of the plane as it flew over the target areas. He was a bomb aimer. How terrifying it must have been for all of them hanging out in the sky wondering if they would be picked off. There were many stories told and retold that kept these wonderful men connected over the years!

    As a researcher, I kick myself that I did not document my father’s story. What a missed opportunity. I have many stories that I recall but first hand from my father would have been an awesome record. Too late now, sadly!

    Many thanks again.

    Margie (Maaka)


    1. Zane Kirk

      Hi Margie
      I believe we spoke some years ago after I’d had a conversation with your mum about Mac. You gave me your email but I lost it during one of my numerous moves. I would love to get back in touch. You said you had Mac’s logbook from the war and as discussed so long ago I was hoping it might throw some light on Mac’s brief time at OTU flying with Ian Blance before he joined Harry Yates. If you can help me out here I would be eternally grateful.
      Kind Regards
      Zane Kirk


  5. David Yates

    Bless you, Margie. I am very pleased that you have got in contact. The grapevine really works!

    My thanks to Simon for his role in this little endeavour.



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