Ngātimoti war memorial

Ngātimoti war memorial

Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial Ngatimoti war memorial

Ngātimoti war memorial in the Motueka Valley.

SiteStyleOrnamentationUnveiling Date No of Dead
Hill in front
of church
Square obelisk
with gates

Further information

We are very grateful to Anne McFadgen for supplying the following information and list of names.

We heard the church bell begin to toll and went home as fast as we could. As we expected, so we heard; war with Germany had been declared. Hector, my brother, and my father were tolling the bell, our way of letting the countryside know the dreaded news. There were no telephones in private houses then.

Margaret (Daisy) Brereton remembers the day that World War I came to the Motueka Valley. (From St James Church, Ngatimoti: One Hundred Years of Witness 1884-1984)

In June 1920 a Ladies’ Committee was formed by Mrs C.B. Brereton to organise the building of a war memorial.

Several options were considered, but the consensus was for an obelisk made of Tākaka marble, to be erected at St James’ Anglican Church.

A fundraising target of £200 was suggested, and raised by means of soliciting subscriptions to the proposed monument from residents of the Ngātimoti/Orinoco Valley area.

A Nelson monumental mason, Mr Simpson, was contracted to undertake the building of the memorial, and two public meetings were held so subscribers to the project could provide their input as to design and wording.

Their efforts were rewarded when, on Anzac Day, 1921, the memorial was officially unveiled by the Rt Rev. William Sadlier, Bishop of Nelson, in front of a crowd of 600 or 700, including the mayors of Motueka and Nelson, Mr Hudson, MP for the district, returned servicemen and local residents.

At the same time a brass tablet was placed in the church with the names of the men killed, and a photograph of this tablet was presented to the Orinoco School.

It was the second war memorial to be erected in New Zealand.

The first was built in Kaitāia in 1916, and is worth checking out for its remarkable inscription.

The land in front of the St James’ Church, where the memorial stands, was gifted by the Guy family estate and was originally owned by Walter Guy, an early settler who in 1881 had donated the land for St James’ church. Walter Guy, who died in 1894, was the grandfather of brothers Walter Jnr and Hector Guy. Both were war casualties – their names are among those inscribed on the memorial, as is that of their cousin, Francis Strachan.

The chairman of the Ladies’ Committee, Margaret (Daisy) Brereton, née Guy, was the sister of Hector and Walter Jnr. Another of her brothers, Arthur, also went off to war, but fortunately survived to return home.

The setting in front of the church with the Mt Arthur Range in the background is spectacular.

In the Murchison earthquake of 1929 the memorial was toppled and broken into many pieces. Ongoing tremors lasting for several months delayed repairs, but eventually it was sent back to Nelson to be mended by Mr Simpson.

Anzac Day parades brought many servicemen and women and local residents together at the memorial over the years, joined since the 1970s by the Motueka Brass Band.

Despite the shutdown of the Ngātimoti RSA sub-branch due to declining numbers, an annual Anzac Day service and laying of wreaths continues, with large numbers of local people in attendance.

Mr A.C. Strachan was responsible for erecting the low pipe fence, complete with small gates, around the memorial and doubtless he had help from other men.

His only son, Francis (Frank), was among the war dead.

Alex Strachan’s sister, Elizabeth, married John Guy, son of Walter Snr, and was the mother of his nephews Walter and Hector Guy, also lost in the Great War.

Inside, on either side of the gates, are a pair of World War One trophies – German Minenwerfer trench mortars given by the Defence Department at the request of Lt. Col. Cyprian Brereton, the valley’s highest-ranking military officer and husband of committee chairperson, Daisy Brereton.

In more recent years a chain fence with pipe posts was erected by members of the Ngatimoti RSA sub-branch, the Waimea County Council donating the chain.

The fence encloses a grassed area which was initially maintained by the RSA. In recent years this task has been taken over by the Friends of St James’ Church.

The Tasman District Council (originally the Waimea County Council) makes a grant towards maintenance.


Large gates to the memorial enclosure have memorial plaques to each side.

A canvass around the Orinoco Valley was undertaken by the Orinoco School committee for the plaques on the memorial gates to the Orinoco School. They were dedicated in 1955 by Canon Samuel Corney, and were moved to their present site when, in 1965, Orinoco School consolidated with Ngātimoti.

With the war memorial standing as it does at the junction of the road turning into the Orinoco Valley, this is a fitting place to have the plaques ‘enshrined’.

The plaques read:

Left hand side

‘These gates were donated by the ex-pupils and residents of Orinoco in loving memory of those who fell overseas’

Right hand side

‘In appreciation of those men and women from this valley who served in the Armed Forces.’

Further information 

When the Great War began in 1914, men from the Motueka Valley were quick to join up. Several young men from Ngātimoti boarded the RMS Athenic in Wellington on 15 October 1914, and others soon followed.

During the war, more than 40 local men set off on their big adventure from the Motueka Valley. Of those, 28 returned home to New Zealand, leaving behind a score of brothers, cousins and friends who were killed in action or died of wounds or sickness.

This was a small, close-knit rural community, whose focus was the church.

 Families were linked by common interests and by marriage. The example of the Guy family is typical of the degree to which Motueka Valley people of the time were interconnected.

The loss of the young men listed below would have represented a devastating blow to the people of this area, but the continued strength of community spirit was shown in the way that they all rallied to support the memorial project – a project of great personal significance for those families whose boys’ graves were so far from home.

The war memorial reminds me particularly of Willie Ham, who used to work with Dad before the war. He was the first New Zealander to be killed in World War I - killed in an engagement on the Suez Canal when the Turks tried to seize possession of the Canal in 1915. I remember, too, Vida and Douglas Strachan crying at school when news came through of their cousins, Walter and Hector Guy and Frank Strachan being killed. We felt that we ought to be crying too, but somehow the tears wouldn’t come. 

From The River, Stump and Raspberry Garden: Ngatimoti as I Remember, by C.B. (Pat) Beatson

Thanks to Denise McQuarrie, to Andrew Guy for family history details, and to Kath Beatson for information and the use of material from her book, The River Flows On: Ngatimoti through Flood and Fortune by Kath Beatson and Helen Whelan 2nd edn, published 2003 by Buddens Bookshop, Motueka.

See also St James Church, Ngatimoti: One Hundred Years of Witness 1884-1984, held by the Motueka Public Library.

List of Dead inscribed on Memorial

  • Pvt. C.M. Bartlett, Killed in action France
  • Tpr. E.B. Burrow, Died of sickness Palestine
  • Tpr. A.H. de Castro. Killed in action Dardanelles
  • 2nd Lieut. J.L. Green, Killed in action Belgium
  • Sgt. Major A.H. Guy (MSM), Killed in action Belgium
  • Pvt. W.A.C. Guy, Killed in action France
  • Pvt. W.A. Ham, Died of wounds, Ismailia, 5.2.1915. (The first New Zealander to fall in action in WW1).
  • Tpr. F.E. Hobson, Killed in action Dardanelles
  • Gnr. K.R. James, Killed in action France
  • Rfm. D.H. Slatter, Killed in action Belgium
  • Pvt. F.A.C. Strachan, Killed in action France
  • Pvt. G. Stuart, Killed in action France
  • Pvt. A.R. Thomason, Killed in action France
  • Pvt, F.G. Waghorn, Died of wounds Hospital ship
  • Gnr. R. Watson, Killed in action France

See also:

You can find more information about the men listed here on the Auckland Museum's Cenotaph database.

Community contributions

8 comments have been posted about Ngātimoti war memorial

What do you know?

Anne McFadgen

Posted: 11 Nov 2015

I'm currently working on a project to tell the stories of each of the men represented on the Ngatimoti War Memorial and the commemorative brass plaque inside St James Church, Ngatimoti.
Stories completed to date can be read at my blog, "Rustlings in the Wind"
I welcome additional information or corrections from family members of Ngatimoti's WWI casualties - please add a comment below the post of interest and I will get back to you.

Annie Coster

Posted: 17 Dec 2014

The other people in the Brereton Wedding photograph are Mrs Wheater and her daughter Nancy. Daisy stayed with them until Cyp was well enough to leave hospital to marry Daisy.


Posted: 03 Apr 2012

Thanks, Nicola - I've fixed this caption now.
Regards, Jamie Mackay

Nicola Bell

Posted: 03 Apr 2012

the photo "image of two brothers in law in France" is captioned incorrectly. Hector Guy is the gentleman seated and Cyprian Brereton is standing on the right of the photo. The wedding photo featuring them is correct though.


Posted: 29 Apr 2008

D H Slatter Died 22 11 17 buried in hooge cem[ near Ypres F.A.Strachan canterbury rgt.died12 11 16 buried in rue de bois cem. fleurbaix france. G Stuart canterbury rgt died 24 09 16 buried at tancraz farm cem Plugsteart is this inf useful??


Posted: 28 Apr 2008

c.m bartlett died 15 12 17buried at polygon wood green, guy , and an r. watson all died on 12 10 17 when attacking Belle Vue spur-passchendaele...all Canterbury rgt