Pohangina rolls of honour

St Andrew’s Church war memorials, Gisborne St Andrew’s Church war memorials, Gisborne St Andrew’s Church war memorials, Gisborne St Andrew’s Church war memorials, Gisborne St Andrew’s Church war memorials, Gisborne St Andrew’s Church war memorials, Gisborne

The tiny Manawatu community of Pohangina has four wartime rolls of honour. Three of them are on display in the County Fayre Tearooms in the former Pohangina County Council building: the Pohangina School Great European War Roll of Honour, the Pohangina School Second World War Roll of Honour and the Pohangina District Second World War Roll of Honour; the fourth is the local Methodist Church’s roll of honour.

The school’s original First World War roll of honour was probably destroyed in a fire which engulfed the school in 1927. A surviving photograph shows that it was an elaborately carved wooden tablet with an Ionic column along each side and a miniature cannon mounted above. At an unknown date, it was replaced by a new tablet, which was simpler in format, but listed 52 names to its predecessor’s 43.

The latter roll was rededicated in the tearooms on 5 April 2014. Since then two further rolls of honour have been added to the display. The school’s Second World War roll of honour replicates the names published in the school’s 75th jubilee booklet, and may be a replacement for a roll of honour formerly on display at the school. However, it seems that the district Second World War roll of honour was only recently compiled.

The Methodist Church’s roll of honour is currently in storage. It is a copy of a certificate printed by A.H. Reed of Dunedin to which have been added the hand-lettered names of 16 men from the congregation who served in the First World War and eight men who served in the Second World War.

After the First World War, the Pohangina County Council decided against a proposal to build a war memorial in the local cemetery. However, after the Second World War, a community memorial swimming pool was constructed in the school grounds. This was formally opened by Sir Matthew Oram, and dedicated by Rev. Keith Elliott, V.C., on 17 March 1956.  The commemorative tablet reads: 1956 / POHANGINA MEMORIAL BATHS / ERECTED IN MEMORY OF / THOSE WHO MADE / THE SUPREME SACRIFICE / IN WORLD WARS I AND II / 1914 – 1918 [ ] 1939 – 1945. The school was closed down in 1972, but the pool remains in use to the present day.

Sources: Pohangina and Mt. Richard Schools 75th Jubilee, 1887-1963, Pohangina, 1963, pp. 1, 23; Awahou School Centenary, 1894-1994, Palmerston North, 1995, p. 204; R.G. Passey, A Brief History of Methodism in the Pohangina Valley, 1893-1993, p. 18; Peter Olsen and Janet Doyle, Communities Remember World War One: Memorials of the Manawatu District, Feilding, 2014, p. 50; ‘Record of memorials a labour of love’, Manawatu Standard, 30/11/2014.

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