Raetihi war memorial

Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial Raetihi war memorial

The Raetihi First World War memorial is a substantial three-arched gate built from local stone at the entrance to the local cemetery. A tablet above the main arch is inscribed: 1914 – 1918 / to the memory of those men / from this district / who laid down their lives in the great war / in the cause of liberty and freedom / is this monument erected / ‘lest we forget.’ A total of 42 names are listed on tablets set into the pillars.

Curiously, the date of unveiling has not been recorded in any local history. However, the Raetihi Borough Council made a contribution towards “soldiers’ memorial gates” in July 1928 (‘Raetihi Affairs’, Auckland Star, 14 July 1928, p. 17), so it was possibly as late as 1928 or 1929.

The Second World War memorial gate, elsewhere in the cemetery, is a more modest structure. It has 17 names inscribed on two granite tablets set into concrete pillars.

The local swimming pool, built in 1956, is also a Second World War memorial.

There is yet another memorial gate to the cemetery, more recently installed. One pillar has a plaque dedicated to the memory of the pioneers of the Waimarino District; the other has a plaque which reads: TO COMMEMORATE / THE CENTENARY OF / THE GREAT FIRE / OF RAETIHI / 18TH-19TH MARCH 1918 / AND TO HONOUR / THE THREE SOULS / WHO PERISHED. The fire which swept through the town and its surrounding area in March 1918, destroyed a large number of buildings and killed a family of three. The plaque was formally unveiled on 19 March 2018, the hundredth anniversary of the fire, although it had been installed some months before.

See: Elizabeth C. Allen, In the Hills of the Waimarino, Wanganui, 1984, pp. 195-213; Raetihi Centennial, 1893-1993, Ohakune, 1993, pp. 22-5, 41-2,  ‘Raetihi Fire Centennial plaque unveiled’, Wanganui Chronicle, 20/3/2018; ‘The fire that changed lives’, Ruapehu Press, 21/3/2018, p. 1.

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