Weraroa Memorial Peace Gates

Side view of iron gates between two white pillars and interpretation boards with text. A grass field and trees are in the background.

In 1923, not one but two substantial First World war memorials were erected in Levin or vicinity: the principal Levin war memorial was unveiled in the town's public gardens by Major General Sir Edward Chaytor on 11 March 1923; just one month later, the Weraroa Memorial Peace Gates were formally opened by Prime Minister W.F. Massey in the Weraroa Domain, at the southern end of town. The stone arch above the gates was inscribed: PEACE MEMORIAL / TO THOSE WHO FOUGHT / IN THE GREAT WAR / 1914-1918. Two marble tablets had been installed on the pillars to allow for the inscription of the names of local men who had given their lives. This task was never in fact carried out, however, a roll of honour listing the names of 98 men from Levin and Weraroa was published in the opening day's programme.

This roll of honour included 34 names of men not listed on the Levin cenotaph. Recent research suggests that most if not all of them were former residents of the Weraroa Boys' Training Farm, possibly excluded from the Levin memorial for that reason.

As part of the day's ceremonies, a row of 13 trees, each dedicated to one of Levin's early settlers, was also planted in the domain. A pioneers' memorial tablet was unveiled, mounted on a low concrete pedestal and inscribed: "These trees are dedicated to the pioneers of Levin and Weraroa in recognition of their faithful public service".  

In 1971 the arch was demolished to allow for widening of the main road. The wrought iron gates were put into storage, but were later misplaced. A memorial stone was erected near the gate's former site with a plaque reading: THIS STONE, REPLACING AN EARLIER / MEMORIAL, HONOURS THOSE WHO / FOUGHT IN THE TWO WORLD WARS / AND COMMEMORATES ALSO, / THE EARLY SETTLERS WHO SHAPED / THE FUTURE OF THIS TOWN / AND DISTRICT / 1ST JULY 1976.

In 2014 the gates were rediscovered in a private garden. They were incorporated into the rebuilt memorial unveiled in the Weraroa Domain on 11 November 2014. A roll of honour board listing the 34 'missing' names was erected alongside. The Pioneer Memorial plaque (not pictured here) was also refurbished and a number of commemorative poles were erected in its vicinity.

See: 'Weraroa's memorial gate', Levin Chronicle, 15/4/1922, p. 3; 'Peace memorial gate', Levin Chronicle, 12/4/1923, p. 3; 'Memorial peace gates', Manawatu Standard, 12/4/1932, p. 5; 'Soldiers' memorial: ceremony at Weraroa', Evening Post, 12/4/1923, p. 10;  Anthony Dreaver, Levin: The Making of a Town, Levin, 2006, pp. 140-1; Linda Fletcher, Horowhenua and the Great War, Levin, 2014, pp. 135-43; 227-33; 'Gate mystery gets closure', Horowhenua Chronicle, 29/10/2014, p. 1; 'Peace gate back in place', Horowhenua Chronicle, 14/11/2014, p. 9.

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