Maxwell war memorial

Maxwell war memorial

The 45-feet high stone obelisk that stands in a prominent position in the tiny rural village of Maxwell (renamed Pākaraka in 2022) is usually referred to as the Maxwell war memorial. It is in fact the Waitotara County First World War memorial. Erected on a site as near as possible to the centre of the county, it was dedicated by Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Cunningham on 4 August 1921.

The bronze plaque on the front of the memorial is inscribed: TO OUR / GALLANT DEAD /1914 -1918 / LET US HERE HIGHLY RESOLVE / THAT THESE DEAD / SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN. The last three lines are a quotation from Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address. The First World War roll of honour lists 66 names. The Second World War roll of honour, unveiled on Anzac Day 1952, lists another 24 names. The memorial stands on a well-kept expanse of lawn surrounded by mature trees. A plaque on one of the gateposts acknowledges the gift of the site by Mr John Davies-Maxwell.

The Maxwell School was closed in 1997. Its First and Second World War rolls of honour have been placed in the local community hall.

See: 'Soldiers memorial', Wanganui Herald, 10/6/1919, p. 7; 'A Waitotara memorial', Patea Mail, 8/8/1921, p. 3; Laraine Sole, The Way We Were: The Settlement of Maxwell and Waitotara, 1850-1930, Waverley, 1990, pp. 111-12; Whanganui District Council, Built Heritage Inventory: Maxwell War Memorial, Whanganui [n.d.] (includes more references).

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