Whakatane war memorial (Pōhaturoa)

Memorial sign

On Anzac Day 1927 the historic rock Pōhaturoa near the centre of the town, was dedicated as a Rock of Remembrance to both Māori and European soldiers who fell during the First World War. The Minister of Public Works, K.S. Williams, unveiled a tablet of black granite set into one side of the rock. This was embellished with representations of a rifle and a taiaha and was inscribed with the words: “Pohaturoa / a Rock of Remembrance of / those of this county / who fell in the Great War / 1914-1919. / He Mata Mahora no te Ara Whanui a / Tane.” The Reverends Lambert, Bawden, Sutherland, Holloway and Te Waaka together dedicated the rock.

This was the official Whakatāne County memorial. (It should not be confused with the Whakatāne Borough First World War memorial, which had been unveiled in the Strand in November 1920, and was later resited outside the Whakatāne War Memorial Hall.)

The Whakatāne memorial restroom on the other side of the rock was formally opened by the Duke of Gloucester on 21 December 1934. This incorporated a memorial stone listing ten Ngāti Awa men who had given their lives during the war and 36 who had also served.

Not far away stands a memorial to Te Hurunui Apanui, a paramount chief of the district, who died on 24 May 1924.

Sources: ‘Anzac Day in Country: Impressive Services: Ceremony at Whakatane’, NZ Herald, 27/4/1927, p. 16; ‘Rock of Pohaturoa’, Auckland Star, 27/4/1927, p. 19; H.D. London, ‘Pohaturoa Rock, Whakatane’, Historical Review, vol. 11, no. 1, March 1963, pp. 28-32; A.D. Mabon, Whakatane 1917-1967, Whakatane, 1967, p. 2.

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Alison Ashley

Posted: 15 Mar 2013

Pohatuora Rock is a sacred rock was established in the 1840's. The rock was born through Tane and Hineparimaunga known as Te Kahui Ki Uta. This rock was established in 1840, a year before The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here by the chiefs of Ngati Pukeko. After The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in Whakatane at the Pohaturoa Rock the tribes had agreed on this sacred rock becoming the official war memorial rock for remembrance of the men who fell during World War II. This rock was used for ceremonies such as birth, death and other personal matters that had involved the rock or the people in it. The archway the people had made was for people that did tattoos and roadways. Since this day forward the rock still remains here and is located at the right-had side of a roundabout in the town of Whakatane.