Pukeuri war memorial

Pukeuri war memorial in 2009.

Additional images

Back of the memorial Detail from memorial

The original memorial

The original memorial The original memorial in ruins Detail from memorial

The memorial is a square obelisk of schist ashlar blocks cemented together with a concrete pyramid cap. On two sides of the memorial are black granite panels, which record the names of 16 First World War casualties.

The original First World War Pukeuri war memorial was erected after locals raised substantial funds.

It was probably not a Bergamini structure and may have been organised by Crombie in Oamaru. It was, however, very substantial and appears to have been nearly 6 metres tall, surmounted by a marble effigy of a soldier. The soldier is said to have been nearly identical to the soldier on the First World War memorial in Palmerston, and parts of the wreckage do bear that out.

The memorial comprised four concrete steps, a plastered concrete base featuring Moeraki (red) gravels, a large rectangular marble base bearing the names, and the inscription, complete with small columns at each corner with miniature Corinthian capitals, then an elaborate tapered base block of marble with crossed rifles and the statue itself. The memorial was within an enclosure of plastered concrete columns and a low fence with Moeraki gravels decorations and a steel rail.

It was located on the north-west corner of the intersection of State Highway 1 with what is now State Highway 83 to Kurow. The road has since been realigned, but the old formation can still be seen.

It was in a vulnerable location and was crashed into at least four times by vehicles (including a motorcycle ridden by a police officer) which failed to negotiate the bend. Local advice is that the same person crashed into the barrier around the memorial on three separate occasions.

Eventually the District Council abandoned repair of the barrier/fence and chains, leaving the memorial even more vulnerable as vehicle speeds increased with improvements in the road surface.

On 24 July 1971, a young farmhand crashed into the memorial at speed and demolished it. He was killed.

The pieces of the memorial were salvaged and they 'hung around' for 30 years while everyone prevaricated about reinstating it. A location outside the Pukeuri Hall (well away from State Highway 1 down a side road) was rejected, and it wasn't until a local woman, Noeline Wilson wrote to the Oamaru Mail in April 1998 inquiring where the memorial was that something was done. She had wanted to place flowers on the memorial on Anzac Day that year to honour two uncles who had been killed.

Local people formed a fundraising commitee to acquire land (a gift from Alliance Freezing Works) and have a new memorial built.

It was unveiled on 2 April 2006. The community had been without its treasured memorial for 35 years.

Pieces of the old memorial are said to be still in private hands. The attached pictures of the inscribed base are dated October 1995.

This information has been derived from material provided to Bruce Comfort by Mrs Noeline Wilson.

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