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Raising the flags

The Papamoa RSA now has a flagpole to go with the cenotaph erected at the site last year. RSA members Mick O’Carroll (left) and Bill Newell (middle) with Mike Farmer. Photo: John Borren.

“And when we have two or three minutes silence we can lower the flag to half mast and pay our respects”

Mick, 70, who served in the Royal Navy for 12 years and the Royal New Zealand Navy for 34 years, retired to Papamoa three years ago and was instrumental in getting a war memorial erected in the suburb last year.

While war memorials honour those who lost their lives at war, there was nothing to recognize those servicemen who had suffered the ill effects of nuclear bombs, says Mick.

“There’s a few of the sailors and soldiers who have had related cancers. We need to remember what they’ve done.”

One of the key sponsors of the $20,000 project was Farmer Autovillage, which provided both financial support and helped coordinate contractors who donated their time. The flag itself has been donated by Nga Potiki, a Tamapahore trust.

“The pole was around $10,000 and the groundworks were the same. We managed to get to get it done through people’s generosity,” says group managing director Mike Farmer.

Farmer Autovillage has a history of donating flagpoles in the city, having also sponsored the city centre and Gate Pa flagpoles.

“It’s all about pride in our city and pride in our country. A lot of other countries are very, very patriotic about their flags and recognition of it. I think it’s very important we have an identity as well.”

Papamoa/Mount Maunganui ward councillor Steve Morris says the memorial and flagpole give the community somewhere they can come together and pay their respects.

“We’re the largest suburb in Tauranga by a country mile – there’s 27,000 people living here – and we had nowhere to gather as a community to reflect. And now we do.”

The next phase of the project is to landscape the area. The design is to include seating with a replica WWI trench configuration, and a concrete path in the shape of a koru, for those in wheelchairs or who are unsteady on their feet.

Already $8,600 has been raised towards the $21,000 needed to complete the landscaping.

The memorial and flagpole come under the auspices of the Mount Maunganui RSA.

Club support manager Peter Moss says there are a lot of younger returned servicemen who live at Papamoa, who have served in more recent conflicts, like Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Anzac Day’s really important, but it will also be a place to go and reflect during the year – a place to sit and meditate.”  

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