Manurewa memorial trees

On 21 July 1919, a commemorative row of 17 trees was planted in Hall Road, Manurewa, as part of the town’s peace celebrations. Fifteen of the trees were planted in honour of young men from the district who had given their lives, either planted by local dignitaries or by relatives or friends of the deceased; one was planted by Mrs H. Brown, President of the Victoria League, in honour of Nurse Edith Cavell and other nurses; and one was planted by local businessman Mr E.S. Pegler as a ‘peace tree’.

According to a newspaper article published long after the event, the order of the trees, starting from the Great South Road, was as follows: left hand (north) side, Peace Memorial Tree, Lieutenant H. Archdale-Taylor, Sergeant B. Palmer, B.J. McAnnalley, D. Wood, J. Duncan, C.H. Slight, F. Slade; right (south) side, nurses’ memorial tree, F.R. Morton, R. Edmiston, W.H. Winstone, W. Costar, R. Costar, D. Fraser, A.S. Matthews, J.S. Paton.

The ceremony was followed by an afternoon tea in the hall for 300 children and later a banquet for more than 500 adults. A public concert and a ball were held in the evening.

Over the years, most of the trees died or were removed. The last survivors were probably lost in the late 1950s when Hall Road was extended to Claude Road. Hall Road was later renamed Halver Road.

On 4 July 2015, at a ceremony organized by the Manurewa Local Board and Manurewa RSA, a London plane tree was planted in Arlene Schultz Park, Halver Road, as a symbolic replacement for the memorial avenue. A plaque was later installed below:

On 21 July 1919 the people of Manurewa / planted a row of memorial trees in Hall Road / to commemorate the sacrifice of men who had / given their lives during the Great War, honour the service / of nurses, and give thanks for peace. / The original trees have long since gone, / but on 4 July 2015 this peace tree was planted / to take their place. / Planted by Angela Dalton / Chair, Manurewa Local Board.

Sources: 'Peace Celebrations', Manurewa Town Board, Minute Book, May 1916 - July 1920, pp. 206, 288, Manukau City Council archives, W2075; ‘Suburban Celebrations’, NZ Herald, 22/7/1919, p. 8; 'Former Tree Planting Ceremony Recalled', South Auckland Courier: Manurewa Advocate Monthly Supplement, 3/9/1958, p. 1; Gwen Wichman,Soaring Bird: A History of Manurewa to 1965, Manurewa, 2001, pp. 122, 124-5; ‘Manurewa’s Peace Trees To Be Replanted’, Manukau Courier, 30/6/2015.

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