Te Arawa soldiers memorial to be restored

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13/02/2016 10:00:00 a.m.

13 February 2016

Above left: A Krupps field gun, thought to have been captured by the Maori Pioneer Battalion at Le Quesnoy, northern France, was located at the front of the memorial, enclosed by four identical carved posts and a chained fence. CREDIT: Rotorua Museum Collection CP-2122

Above right: The memorial today.

 

Fitting tribute to unique piece of local history

Rotorua’s Te Arawa Soldiers Memorial in the Government Gardens is to be restored as part of the district’s World War One commemorations.

The memorial was unveiled on 28 February 1927 by HRH The Duke of York (later King George VI) during a Royal visit to New Zealand. Over the years, however, its condition has deteriorated and elements of the structure have been vandalised.

Reinstating significant elements of the memorial is seen as a way to restore the mana attached to the memorial and to those it commemorates. It will also enable future generations and Te Arawa to appreciate a unique piece of the Rotorua district’s history.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick, who chairs the Rotorua District WW100 Commemorations Committee, says it will be fantastic to see the memorial restored.

“We’re very pleased we’ve been able to attract funding for this project – to restore and preserve an important piece of Rotorua war history which this memorial marks.

“The memorial is one of only a few erected by Maori to commemorate their men who fought and died in World War One. Its restoration will be a fitting way to commemorate our city’s contribution to World War One.”

A large contribution - $275,229 – from the Lotteries World War One Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Fund has been confirmed and will enable the project to go ahead. The fund supports projects that foster the conservation, preservation and promotion of New Zealand’s natural, physical and cultural heritage and includes support for community events, activities and capital projects commemorating the centenary of World War One.

Other organisations supporting the project include Rotorua Trust (RECT) which is donating $25,000, NZCT ($30,000) and New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute which will do bronze work on the project.

Mayor Chadwick says the memorial has had an interesting history since being erected in the late 1920s.

“Our committee is delighted with not only the contribution from the Lotteries fund but also the funding and input from other organisations, including from Rotorua’s New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute which will bring its expertise and enthusiasm to the project.

“The memorial has been in need of attention for some time now and it’s great that we can finally get it restored,” she says.

The project was instigated by the Rotorua District WW100 Commemorations Committee, which is chaired by the mayor and also includes representatives from the RSA, Rotorua Lakes Council, the Rotorua Museum, the Ngati Whakaue Education Endowment Trust, the 28th Maori Battalion B Company Trust, Rotorua Boys High School, the Children of the Gallipoli Veterans, the Rotorua District Cadet Unit, the Rotorua Menz Shed and the media.

The committee has consulted with Te Arawa, through various organisations, and received unanimous support for the undertaking. Young Maori and where possible, Te Arawa carvers, will be given the opportunity to work on the project – seen as an opportunity to increase their understanding of their whakapapa and traditional carving skills.

The project will involve the repair and conservation of the stonework on the memorial; replication of the stone statue of Rangitihi which was badly damaged and removed from the memorial in 1936; replication in bronze of eight original tekoteko and four pou that originally surrounded the memorial; and research and development of new interpretive panels.

The restoration will be the most significant project being undertaken by the committee and the aim is to have the restoration completed in time for Armistice Day 2018 (100th Anniversary of Armistice Day).

The committee considers NZMACI’s involvement in the project as important and significant. The project aligns with the institute’s business strategy, according to NZMACI director Karl Johnstone, taking advantage of bronze casting skills NZMACI has accrued through its foundry and supporting an important community kaupapa.

About the memorial

• Erected to commemorate Te Arawa men who fought and died in WW1, the memorial portrays key events in the history of Te Arawa and the interactions of Te Arawa and Pakeha.

• Features the names of 35 Te Arawa men (four more are listed on the 1927 souvenir programme).

• General deterioration over the years as well as incidents of vandalism, including of the pou and the stone carving of Rangitihi which the memorial originally featured was the reason that the Committee chose the restoration of the memorial as its flagship project.

About the restoration

Above: This picture of Rangi McPherson in front of the memorial in the 1950s was taken by Eric Hiini and donated to Rotorua Museum by George McLeod. CREDIT: Rotorua Museum Collection 2008.1573

• A conservation plan was commissioned by Rotorua Lakes Council on behalf of the committee and this identified the severely degraded state of the memorial including stone elements, losses and other damage to stonework, the loss of the stone statue of Rangitihi and removal of the original carved pou that surrounded it.

• At presentations to iwi, Te Arawa supported the restoration including restoring the pou in bronze (this will involve moulding and casting the remaining pou into bronze replicas).

• The project will be completed in stages and work is to begin as soon as possible with contractors expected to be commissioned by March 2016.

• Iwi will be consulted to determine the manner in which the statue of Rangitihi is to be replicated.

 

Page reviewed: 13 Feb 2016 10:00am