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Hikurangi Museum war memorial


Hikurangi’s original First World War memorial was erected at the north-western end of the Hikurangi bridge in 1922. This was a seven foot high slab of Oamaru stone. A marble tablet inscribed with the names of the district’s 16 fallen was set into the front of the slab, with the names of 49 men who also served inscribed on either side. The memorial also incorporated a drinking fountain and a water trough for dogs. The memorial was unveiled by Colonel C.E.R. Mackesy on 5 August 1922. The lamp of remembrance which surmounted the slab was first lit on 9 September 1922.

Less than three years later the memorial was destroyed. The story goes that it was swept down the Mangahuru Stream by a flood. In fact, on 27 June 1925 gale force winds toppled the slab, which broke into several pieces. It is not known what happened to the pieces.

For many years Hikurangi did not have a First World War memorial. In 2002, however, the Hikurangi Historical Museum Society commissioned a new First World War memorial tablet. This was erected on a concrete plinth in the museum forecourt, alongside a marble Second World War memorial tablet that had formerly been presented to the Hikurangi School by the Hikurangi Women’s Institute. The new memorial was formally unveiled on 22 March 2003.

It was later realized that the list of fallen was incomplete. The original Hikurangi and District First World War roll of honour had included the names of sixteen dead: H. Ball, R. Carter, G. Cox, J. Dobson, A. Frew, H. Hanlin, M. Healy, J. Johnston, A. Langford, P. Leask, W. Little, J.D. McLeod, A. Olsen, B. Smith, B. Snowden and F. Yearbury. The new tablet included only four of these names―Ball, Carter, Dobson and McLeod―but added four others: A. Christie, H. McLennan, C. Reinhardl’ and G. Strong. In 2015, therefore, a new and updated First World War roll of honour was unveiled in the Hikurangi District War Memorial Hall, as well as a new Hikurangi School war memorial listing both First and Second World War names. The plaque from the old school memorial was donated to the museum.

The Museum also displays in its Returned Services room two handwritten First World War rolls of honour. One came from the Hikurangi School, and lists 90 names (eight deaths); the other, from an unnamed local church, lists 26 names (three deaths).  There is also a framed Hikurangi Second World War roll of honour which lists 116 names (eight deaths).

Sources: ‘Hikurangi Memorial’, Northern Advocate, 7/8/1922, p. 7; ‘Hikurangi News’, Northern Advocate, 14/9/1922, p. 7; ‘Damage by the Floods’, NZ Herald, 29/6/1925, p. 8; Madge Malcolm Hikurangi: The Story of a Coalmining Town, Kamo, 1997, pp. 120-2, 209; Hikurangi Historical Museum Society, Memories of Hikurangi: Book Three, 2008, p. 11; ‘Hikurangi Museum’ album held at museum.


Bruce Ringer, Auckland Libraries, 2014

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Hikurangi Museum war memorial, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated