101st Armistice Day commemoration in Papamoa

The Papamoa cenotaph. Photo: Supplied

The flagstaff at the Papamoa War Memorial will be flying full colours for the first time on Monday.

One year from its unveiling, the war memorial has been chosen as the location for the 101st Armistice Day commemoration for Tauranga.

The Armistice Day Parade and Service will be held by the Tauranga RSA and Mount Maunganui RSA on Monday November 11, and commemorates 101 years since the end of World War 1.

The parade starting at 11am will be followed by a service led by Mount RSA President Bill Newell.

2019 ANZAC Day service at the Papamoa cenotaph

Guest speaker at the commemoration will be Greg Moyle who is a trustee for the NZWMM  - NZ War Memorial Museum which is located in a former mayor’s mansion in the northern French town of Le Quesnoy.

The people of the small walled town, who were liberated by New Zealand Forces in 1918 just days before the Armistice after four years of brutal German occupation, have never forgotten their Kiwi rescuers.

Anthony Averill, a property consultant at WPS Opus in Tauranga, visited Le Quesnoy in November 2018, 100 years to the day that his grandfather Leslie Cecil Lloyd Averill, led some men over the walls into the town.

On his return to Tauranga, Anthony reflected on what this meant to him personally.

“I guess the thing that stood out for me was how much Le Quesnoy remembers what New Zealanders did in the First World War,” says Anthony.

“You walk down nearly every street in the town and there are NZ flags. The streets have got NZ names.”

Leslie Averill. Photo from family collection

His grandfather has a street named after him.

“I had a special conversation with a man who was on the local council, and he was very grateful for what New Zealanders did for their town.

“The memory of that doesn’t appear to have faded in the 100 years since it happened.

“That’s something that should be very special for all New Zealanders to remember.”

NZ War Memorial Museum at Le Quesnoy

Buddy Mikaere is also a trustee of the NZ War Memorial Museum at Le Quesnoy. He visited the town in November 2018 for the 100 year commemorations.

“There are at least four soldiers that I know of from Tauranga that were at Le Quesnoy, on that day,” says Buddy. “As I go around the country meeting people, I find more people who have family-connected relationships.

“After seven years of planning, the Trust purchased the historic former mayoral residence and surrounding gardens in Le Quesnoy.”

The trust have been raising funds to repurpose the mansion into a permanent museum.

“The museum will exhibit interactive and precious historic collections, focusing on New Zealand’s military involvement in Europe and our significant contributions in both World Wars: a way of telling New Zealand soldiers’ stories,” says Buddy.

“An integral part of the experience will provide resources to allow research into the location of New Zealand soldiers’ graves in Europe.”

“Not only is Monday November 11 Armistice Day but it’s the first anniversary of the cenotaph’s unveiling,” says Tauranga City Councillor and ward councillor for Papamoa/Mount Maunganui. “But the work hasn’t stopped there: a few months later we lit the memorial up.

“In April we installed a 12m flagstaff donated by the Farmer Motor Group and recently moved two pohutukawa trees to the rear of the site for more space, thanks to Tauranga City Council.”

The Papamoa flagstaff, which is similar to the flagstaff at Gate Pa, is more suited to the marine conditions, being close to the beach.

“Landscape plans have been developed and we hope to have that completed by Anzac Day thanks to Papamoa Beach Resort and BayTrust. We have a generous community that’s raised some $50,000 in cash and in-kind to give Papamoa a place to remember.”

Fundraising was almost exclusively undertaken and supported by the Papamoa community. Papamoa resident Mick O’Carroll initially approached Steve Morris with the idea for a memorial as a place for locals to gather and pay their respects to those who gave their lives so we can live in freedom. Mount Maunganui RSA took on the project, recognising that about one-fifth of their membership live in Papamoa. The board of Nga Potiki also supported the memorial being erected and Tauranga City Council make the land available. Mike Burrows from Burrows Concrete Ltd donated his company’s time and materials to build the plinth and foundation, and also donated $2000 towards the spire. The crew from HMNZS Te Mana, the Anzac frigate that has Tauranga as its home port, also gave $1000.  

The black granite obelisk project, complete with flagstaff, is being completed in four stages. The three metre ground spire was the first stage, followed by the lighting of the cenotaph, followed by stage three which was the addition of the 12 metre flagstaff.

The landscaping plan, which is the final and fourth stage of the war memorial cenotaph project, will evoke the trenches in World War One.

The 2019 ANZAC parade. Photo: Leanne Brown

The first ANZAC service in Papamoa was held on April 25 at the new cenotaph and hosted by the Mount Maunganui RSA, with many locals gathering to honour those who had given their lives, and to lay wreaths and poppies at the base of the cenotaph.

Parking on Monday will be made available at the Pony Club on Stella Place from 10am. All are welcome to attend.


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