Whakatāne Memorial Rest Room

Whakatāne Memorial Rest Room

Memorial Memorial Memorial Memorial Memorial

The memorial in 2010

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Whakatāne Memorial Rest Room.

About the memorial

The Memorial Rest Room in Whakatāne was erected to commemorate members of Ngāti Awa who served in the First World War. Whakatāne’s first royal visitor, the Duke of Gloucester, unveiled the memorial on 21 December 1934.

The Whakatane Native Memorial Committee raised £282 (equivalent to nearly $36,000 in 2020) for the rest room, which is usually referred to as a shelter. Two of the committee’s 12 members were returned servicemen. In March 1933, the committee wrote to Native Minister Apirana Ngata asking for help with the cost of erecting the memorial. The great depression meant that the government was unable to contribute. The Borough Council gave land for the memorial, which is situated on The Strand, at the base of Pōhaturoa Rock. The council also supplied lighting free of charge.

Pōhaturoa Rock is a fitting spot for the memorial. It is associated with traditional Māori war ceremonies, and is believed to have been a lookout from which iwi were warned of impending danger. First World War soldiers were farewelled from the lawn alongside Pōhaturoa. The area now serves as a memorial precinct – the rock itself was dedicated as the County War Memorial in 1927, and an obelisk commemorating Ngāti Awa paramount chief Te Hurinui Apanui sits on the lawn at its base. A carved seat commemorates Albert Stewart, a local Māori politician who led the 1917 campaign against the removal of the rock. Anzac Day services were held at Pōhaturoa until the Whakatane Memorial Hall was built in 1955.

The shelter contains a marble tablet which lists the names of 10 Ngāti Awa men who died on active service and 36 who survived. Lack of funds prevented the intended erection of another five tablets. The shelter is adorned with the kind of carved panels depicting esteemed ancestors that are customary on wharenui (meeting houses). The ancestors are Pūkeko, Toroa, Iratumoana, Apanui, Hikakino and Ikapuku. Riini Hetaraka, a Ngāti Hokopu tohunga whakairo (master carver), is believed to have carved the panels.

In 1994, a group of community workers painted a mural on the shelter, under the direction of design artist Tim Worrall. The mural depicted scenes from the First and Second World Wars. Sometime between 2010 and 2016 these murals were painted over, probably when the site was being renovated for 2015 events marking the 175th anniversary of Ngāti Awa signing the Treaty of Waitangi at Pōhaturoa Rock.

The inscription on the memorial’s tablet reads:

He Tohu Aroha
Na Nga
Hapu O Ngatiawa – Ngati Pukeko
Hei Whakamaharatanga Ki To Ratou

Ope Taua I Haere Kite Pakanga
1914–1918. N.Z.M.P. Batt.

He Korero Riri Ki Wharaurangi
He Korero Ta Matau Ki O Tuawhaki

S. LawsonT. Chase
D. StewartP. Raihi
G. SimpsonT. Mamaku
G. TokaH. Tawa
M. HutaT. Tawa
C. BluettH. Fox
T. SimpkinsT. Horopapera
N. RatimaT. Kereti
R. HuniaH. Wineti
W. HuniaI. Tunui
 R. Ratima
ServedT. Huta
T. KopaeP. Hirini
T. KororikoT. Kopae
H. HiriniH. Ratahi
T. MeritoD. Doherty
R. MeritoB. Doherty
F. StewartD. Bluett
M. KingiH. Takotohiwi
T. IrimakoH. Pohonui
R. Uta UtaH. Penetito
A. PetaT. Te Kakara
H. HutaM. Stewart
T. HaimonaH. Stewart

Other inscriptions on the memorial include:

Memorial Rest Room
Roll Of Honour Unveiled By His Royal Highness
Duke Of Gloucester 21st Dec 1934

Kaua E Tukinotia
To Tatau Taonga


Further information

  • Maori Soldiers Memorial, Whakatane, Department of Maori Affairs, 16036, 18/2/23, Archives New Zealand
  • Matthews & Matthews Architects Ltd in association with Lyn Williams, Shirley Arabin and R.A. Skidmore and Associates, Whakatane Built Heritage Study, Part Two, Issue 3, November 2007, pp. 14–16
  • Whakatane & District Historical Society, Pohaturoa Rock: a mark in history, Beacon Print & Publishing Co., Whakatane, 1955, pp. 1–4
  • Whakatane Museum/Whakatane & District Historical Society, Glimpses from Whakatane's past, Whakatane & District Historical Society, Whakatane, 1988

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