Family photo: Eric, Ernie, Walter, George, Frank, Alice, Aunty Edith, Sisifa, Ofa. This photo was taken at Alices wedding in 1948. Richard Keyworth's mother Hilda is missing as she was taking the photo! The youngest sibling Richard died in 1943 while serving in the NZ Army in Tonga. He is buried in Nukualofa. Aunty Edith raised the siblings here in Auckland in Ponsonby. Photo/ Supplied

In 2015 Kaniva News ran a story about the first Tongan All Black, Walter Batty.

Batty, who was born in Tonga in 1905,  joined the New Zealand side in 1928. His father was English, but his mother was a Tongan, Luʻisa Tupou.

Now his grandson, Richard Keyworth, has shed light on Batty’s family.

Walter Batty. Photo/Supplied

“Luisa Tupou was my grandmother,” Keyworth told Kaniva News.

“My mother Hilda was Walter’s eldest sister.

“We are descended from Po’oi through Mekemeke who was my great-great-grandfather. Luisa was a cousin of Queen Salote.

“They shared the same grandmother, Ulukilupetea.

Princess Fusipala Salote’s half-sister came to Auckland for her education and attended Dio College, Keyworth said.

“Whenever the queen visited Ha’apai Luisa would move into the royal residence to be the queen’s attendant and companion.

“Luisa tried living in Auckland, but didn’t like it.

“Here she was nobody. In Tonga she was important!

“My mother, who was the same age, attended Auckland Grammar. When Fusipala was not at Dio she stayed at our family home in Ponsonby. The two girls were in the same boat and became very close! “

“Auckland in those days was a difficult place for people with brown skin, especially in Ponsonby which was a well-to-do European community.

“Walter and his siblings were subjected to racist taunts. Sport was a way out.”

Batty played six matches as a loose forward for the All Blacks, including three tests against the British and Irish Lions during their New Zealand tour of 1930, during which he scored a test try at Wellington.

He also played in a test match against Australia the following year.

An insurance agent by profession, Batty joined up and served as a sergeant in the Royal New Zealand Artillery during the Second World War.

He won the Distinguished Conduct Medal after singlehandedly holding off an attack by Italian tanks in Libya until his unit could be reinforced.

He later became A Warrant Officer First Class.

In the mid 1940s the Auckland Star published a half page article on “The Sporting Battys”

Keyworth said his family were related to the Lomus by marriage and were acknowledged as cousins by the Kahos.

“My eldest sister Edith lived and worked in Ha’apai for several years and  became known as Tupou Kelo after our Grand mother. My Grandfather Gerald had red hair!”

For more information

Did you know? Tonga’s first All Black

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