Saturday, 28 April 2018

War Memorials of Rotorua Pt. 1

Boer War and WW1

Boer War 1893-1902.

Photo courtesy of  Kete Rotorua
The first ever War Memorial was in 1904, this being the Fred Wylie Memorial and still stands today in the Government Gardens.  Sculpted and installed by Parkinson Bros. Monumental Masons of Auckland.  Unveiled by Mr W. H. Herries, at 9:00am on the 24th February 1904

Fred Wylie was the son of a prominent Rotorua family.
A volunteer in the NZ Rough Riders, 4th Contingent.

“He was killed at Klipfontein on 26th May 1901. He will be remembered for his gallant exploit at Ventersdorp on the 23rd May, when single handed he captured a 15-pound gun, after shooting two Boers and capturing another”.  NZH 7 June 1901.

World War One :
In 1919 a War Memorial Committee was formed and by February of 1920 a suggestion was “made by Local Bodies to erect a monument in the Town Square to fallen soldiers from this district, from England and Australia who died of war wounds here in Rotorua”. NZH 10 Feb 1920. For the site settled on see later article 6th July 1924

In 1920 the War Memorial Committee members were the Mayor C.H. Clinkard, Mr F. White (secretary) and Mr E. La Trobe Hill (architect).

 “A war memorial, taking the form of a cenotaph, has been decided upon by the local memorial committee. It was further decided that the whole of the present designs submitted be rejected and that fresh tenders be called for; monuments to be of granite and of the cenotaph design.” NZH 10 Aug 1923.

At a meeting of the Rotorua War Memorial Committee, held last night, the design and tender of Messrs’  Parkinson & Co. Monumental Masons of Auckland were accepted… at a cost of £1100.” NZH 5 Sept 1923.

“Rotorua War Memorial” Auckland Star 21 March 1924.
The excavating work in connection with the erection of the Rotorua War Memorial, commenced yesterday in the Government Gardens, under the supervision of Mr Willcox… the sections of the memorial, which have now arrived, are being assembled under the personal supervision of Mr Parkinson.”

The World War 1 memorial in the Government Gardens was unveiled on Sunday July 6th 1924 at 3.00pm. By Major-General Melville, G.O.C., of New Zealand Forces.  It was to have been unveiled on the ANZAC Day that year, but was postponed due to the Railway strike.  See the full story on Papers Past in the AUCKLAND STAR, VOLUME LV, ISSUE 156, 3 JULY 1924.
[In 1922, during the sharp post-war economic downturn, the government cut state servants' wages by up to 10%. After exhausting other means of protest ASRS members voted to strike, against Mack's advice, in April 1924. 'Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants certificate', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 3-May-2016]

Photo courtesy of Kete Rotorua
Arawa Soldiers Memorial 

'Maori War Memorial: Ohinemutu Proposal' Excerpt from New Zealand Herald 7th April 1919.

"The proposal is to erect a pedestal or low obelisk with seven sides, the number seven representing the badge of the Maori Battalion. Six of the sides, it was suggested, should be of red, white and blue granite, to symbolise the flag under which the Maoris, like other soldiers of the British Empire fought. The seventh side would be of either stone or metal and would bear an inscription.... It was also suggested that if possible, the Prince of Wales should be requested to unveil the memorial during his approaching visit to Rotorua..." 

Photo courtesy of  Kete Rotorua
"Capt. W. H. Feldon of Auckland was commissioned for the sculpture which will form a prominent portion of the design" Bay of Plenty Times 25 Nov 1919.

The Prince of Wales, did indeed visit Rotorua on the 8th May 1920, his majesty did not unveil the memorial as it was not finished. He did however present medals to returned soldiers at Arawa Park.

The following is an excerpt of the article published in the New Zealand Herald on 26 February 1927
"A lofty octagon, it stands in a commanding position to the north of the Bath House and will be unveiled by the Duke at noon on Monday... the striking thing about the memorial is the wealth and variety of it's the top of the monument is a life size figure of the King in full regal robes"

Due to an unknown vandal in 1936, the "life size figure of a Maori chief, holding a taiaha, which stood at the foot of the column...was knocked off it's pedestal and broken into several pieces" in the Press 10 November 1936. 

Restoration of this significant memorial to the Arawa soldiers is taking place now and will be finished in time for the Armistice Remembrance Service in November 2018.

With thanks to the Don Stafford Collection, Papers Past and Rotorua Daily Post for the information above. Photographs courtesy of Kete Rotorua.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

ANZAC Day in Rotorua

Remembering the fallen : a brief history

ANZAC Day was first observed in NZ on the 25th April 1916. The following year it was changed to the 23rd April as there were Municipal elections to be held on the 25th. From 1918, the remembrance day has been held on the 25th April.

Poppy Making by Rotorua Children with Jill Walker
The Anzac Day Act of 1920 stated that 25 April was to be observed throughout New Zealand as a public holiday. All licensed premises were to be closed and no race meetings held. This was amended by a 1921–22 Act which stated that 25 April was to be observed in all respects as if Anzac Day were a Sunday. This Act declared the observance of Anzac Day as a commemoration of the part taken by New Zealand troops in the Great War and of the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the Empire. The Anzac Day Act of 1949 enlarged the scope of the original Act by making the day one of commemoration for those who served in the Second World War and the South Africa War as well as in the First World War. URL: (accessed 10 Apr 2018)
Reprinted and amended 2014 Anzac Day Act 1966

The Wairarapa Daily Times reported the following on 26 April 1916. :
“A half holiday was observed on account of ANZAC Day, Mr Hill Resident Officer presided.  The service included many Returned Soldiers, cadets and Boy & Girl scouts.  The Anglican Clergy did not participate as the Bishop of Waiapu had forbidden them to take part in the united service. There was a large proportion of Anglican’s in the congregation. Reverend’s D. Herd and F. Stubbs (Presbyterian), B. Peat (Methodist) and Captain Whiteley (Salvationist) took part”
NZH 27 April 1918, p.6

Returned Soldiers were on parade for the 1918 ANZAC service accompanied by Colonel Stuart Newall, territorials, senior cadets, boy & girl scouts and school children. The service was attended by nearly 2000 people. There were at least 20 ANZACS who were provided front row seats.

On the 25th April 1916, 1000 Rotorua citizens attended the inaugural ANZAC Commemoration service in the Government Gardens. The dawn service was held in the Gardens until 1929 when it was held at Ohinemutu, and on one occasion at the newly unveiled memorial arch Te Hokowhitu-A-Tu, at the entrance to Whakarewarewa Village in 1950. 

In 1929 the Arawa Returned Soldiers established the Soldiers Cemetery, for the Arawa Soldiers of the Pioneer Battalion, final resting place at Muruika Point, Ohinemutu. From this time onwards the ANZAC Dawn Service has been held at Muruika Point, with a few exceptions.  The other Memorial Service was held in the afternoon in the Bath Building, guest speaker was The Hon. W. Downie Stewart.

A Civic Memorial Service was also held on ANZAC Day in the Government Gardens usually in the afternoon.  Sir Joseph Ward was in Rotorua for the 1930 ANZAC service hosted by Mayor T. Jackson.     This is service is in addition to the Dawn Parade Service at Ohinemutu.  

In 1955 "Arbor Day was celebrated by citizens of Rotorua with the planting of trees in the new War Memorial Park" in Rotorua Morning Post, 4th August 1955 p.1
The trees were mostly Rhododendrons and Silver Birch and still line the Memorial Drive, having been moved once to widen the road. 

In 1958 the ANZAC commemoration was held at the newly installed WW2 Memorial Gates, part of the entrance to ‘War Memorial Park’ at the lake end of Fenton Street. 

Other memorial trees at War Memorial Park include a Sequoia replaced in 1979, the Plane Trees marking the original lake front and the Olive Tree planted 1972.

The Anzac Civic Memorial Service was held at the Civic Theatre until 2015 when the Energy Events Centre was the location due to the beginning of the WW100 Centennial, since then it has been at the Civic Theatre and this year (2018) will be at the Sportsdrome.

Municipal Civic Centre 1940-1995.
Courtesy of the Rotorua Library collection of the Rotorua Photo News.

With thanks to the 'Don Stafford Collection", Papers Past and Te Ara Encyclopedia for the above information.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Queen Carnivals : the War Years in Rotorua.

Fund Raising for the Soldiers

The first of these to take place in Rotorua was in November of 1915 and all local schools took part. £1318 18s was raised for the Patriotic Fund. Winner Miss Ruth Winiata (Queen of Peace) was crowned after raising £403 18s 10 d.  This was a popular way to raise money for the patriotic fund and most towns held their own carnival. 

NZ Times 22 November 1915, Courtesy of Papers Past.

Another was advertised for June of 1922 to continue to raising funds for the War Memorial Campaign, the carnival ended with a coronation ceremony on June 8th 1922 at the Majestic Theatre and the following school girls were crowned:  Overall Queen Carnival: Miss Doria Griffiths ; Ngongotaha Queen: Miss Sarah Marcroft ; Band Queen : Miss Margaret Bowes ; Sports Queen : Miss Eunice Tapper.
All Queens were accompanied by Pages and Maids of Honour.  The Archbishop, for the ceremony was Master Ken Dods, who placed the crown on the queen’s head and handed her the orb and sceptre. 

In 1929 Ana Hato was crowned Queen Carnival (NZ Herald 5.12.1929)

The Queen Carnival was also held in 1940 and 1941 to raise money for the ‘Sick, wounded and distress fund”
Ultimately it was a patriotic effort to remember Rotorua’s fallen soldiers.

In 1937 a Caledonian Queen Carnival was held to raise funds for uniforms and other necessary equipment for the Rotorua Municipal & newly formed Pipe Bands.

In 1939/40 the new Rotorua Primary School was built and it was decided to construct a swimming pool as soon as possible. A Queen Carnival was organised and £1,000 was raised. Along with a government subsidy of £300 there was enough to start straight away. However the war intervened and the new pool was eventually opened in 1951.

At the Regent Theatre on August 20th 1945 a Coronation Ceremony of the King & Queen of the Rotorua Inter-Zone Patriotic Coronation Carnival. “So successful was the carnival that the ‘King’ Mr J. Whiti and ‘Queen’ Miss Winnie Mitchell (Arawa Maori Tribes) were able to hand the chairman of the Rotorua Inter-Zone Patriotic Carnival (Mr C.J. Casey)  , the sum of £8,217 15s 4d to be spent for the benefit of returning servicemen” Rotorua Morning Post 22 August 1945.

In the programme for the Coronation Ceremony the other contestants are pictured with their entourage named and the amount they raised. : King & Queen Elect Mr J. Whiti and Miss W Mitchell raised £2751/14/10; King & Queen of the Public Services – Mr G. Day & Mrs M. Goldsmith raised £2267/4/7; King & Queen of the Combined Forces – Mr I. Stuart & Sister M. Peake raised £2001/19/1 and King & Queen of the Sports Bodies – Mr F.H. Lord & Miss Betty Ewert raised £1196/16/10. 

Another Queen Carnival was also held to raise funds for the War Memorial & Park in January 1953. The sum of £15,397/11/8 1/2 d. This money along with the Government £ for £ subsidy on the contract amount £12,500 was spent on improving the lake front. The winner of the carnival was the White Queen, Mrs Ilene McGill, runners up were the Blue Queen, Mrs Carol Ryan and Red Queen, Mrs Anne Trask.

A Queen Carnival was also held to raise funds for the War Memorial & Park in January 1953. The sum of £15,397/11/8 1/2 d. This money along with the Government £ for £ subsidy on the contract amount £12,500 was spent on improving the lake front. The winner of the carnival was the White Queen, Mrs Ilene McGill, runners up were the Blue Queen, Mrs Carol Ryan and Red Queen, Mrs Anne Trask.

This memorial stands at the entrance to the lake front on Memorial Drive which continues on from Fenton Street. The park area was also to be a part of the memorial thus making the whole block from Whakaue Street to the lake a fitting memorial to the fallen.  See also Rotorua Morning Post 4.7.1946; 20.9.46; 8.2.1955; 4.8.1955; 26.4.1958.

Photograph courtesy of Kete Rotorua.

In 1960 the Queen Carnival committee chaired by Mr Joidah Thomas raised funds for the new indoor stadium or Rotorua Health & Recreation Centre. (Later to be called the Sportsdrome) see DP 21.7.1960

In 1961 the carnival began on the 9th Oct with a parade of decorated vehicles and floats. And the carnival culminated with a function at the Soundshell to announce the winning Queen. To win the queen had to have raised the most money for the cause. On this occasion Yonine Waaka (Maori Queen) raising $12,442 won, runner up was Roma Steele (Commerce Queen) raising $12,066.
The overall total raised was $58,000, unfortunately this was not enough to build the stadium and in 1963 Council proposed raising a loan of $50,000.

The P.R.O also proposed several more fund raising efforts including selling seats (there were 200 seats to sell) and further efforts were made. See Daily Post 8.5.64, 12.5.64, 25.5.64 and 13.6.64 

With thanks to the 'Don Stafford Collection' and Papers Past for the above information.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Aotearoa Maori Performing Arts Festival to Te Matatini o te Ra 2000-2009

Rotorua Kapa Haka Teams 

2000Aotearoa Maori Performing Arts Festival held in Ngaruawahia on 1st– 3rd February 2000.

Competing this time at Turangawaiwai were Ngati Rangiwewehi, Te Mātārae i Ōrehu, Nga Pumanawa e Waru and Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao. For a list of the performers and photographs, see pgs. 10-11 of the Daily Post 27th February 2000.

The TOP 4 :
1. Ngati Rangiwewehi aimed to take back their winning title of 1996 and went into the festival as favourites to win. This group dates back to 1968 when they first performed at the opening of the Wharekai at Awahou Marae.

Ngati Rangiwewehi is the most successful of Te Arawa Kapa Haka groups.  National title holders 1983 & 1996 and featuring in the top six at the Aotearoa Maori Performing Arts Festival since it began in 1972.

In 1983 this group represented NZ at the South Pacific Arts Festival in Tahiti 1985 and Western Samoa in 1996. This kapa haka group also featured in the opening ceremony of the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland.

2. Te Mātārae i Ōrehu was formed in 1994. The group began under leadership from the late Te Irirangi Tiakiawa Tahuriorangi. The name chosen for the group is from a sacred headland on Lake Rotoiti, the home of Ngati Rongomai and Ngati Hinekura.

Group tutor and co-founder Wetini Mitai-Ngati revived old ancient traditions. On the occasion of their first performance in the Te Arawa Maori Arts Festival in 1995 Wetini was awarded the Kaitataki Tane trophy. This group were invited to perform at the Wellington Military Tattoo. 

3. Nga Pumanawa E Waru.
Leader Wiremu Williams & Taini Morrison started this group which includes Rewa Ututaonga, Vanessa Eparaima…
6th place getter in the 1994 competition at Hawera

4. Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao. This group began competing under their tribal name in 1986. They have ranked highly since then, always in the top six. This year the Kaitataki Tane will be Warena Morgan and the Kaitataki Wahine will be Traysie Eparaima. DP 1st Feb 2000 + 9 March 2000

And the Winners were - Te Mātaārae i Ōrehu, Rotorua.

2001 – Te Arawa Arts Festival held at the Sportsdrome on the 10th March hosted by Temuera Morrison and Maureen Waaka. 

Seven teams vying for the top 4 places are Ngati Rangiwewehi, Te Mātārae i Ōrehu (current champions) Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao (3 teams), Ngati Pikiao and Te Wananga O Aotearoa, see Daily Post 27 Feb 2001.

2002 - Aotearoa Maori Performing Arts Festival held at Auckland: Representing Te Arawa were : Te Mataarae i Orehu, Ngati Rangiwewehi, Ngati Pikiao and Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao.
Overall Winners: Waihirere.

2005 – Te Arawa boycott Matatini

In Daily Post on 29 Oct 2005 – “The inaugural Te Arawa Kapa Invitational Festival is less than a month away and organisers are preparing for an explosion of kapa haka talent.

The controversial festival is being held after Te Arawa boycotted the national festival, Te Matatini, this year amid concerns about the future direction of the competition.

Event organiser and deputy mayor Trevor Maxwell said Te Arawa kapa haka committee wanted to provide something for the iwi's groups who did not take part at this year's national festival.

Mr Maxwell said there were many good reasons for holding the invitational festival, including Rotorua's own historical celebrations. The competition's theme is The Birth of Rotorua - 125 Years Celebration.

The competition will be hosted by MC's Scotty and Temuera Morrison at the Rotorua Arena at Rotorua Girls' High School the following day.”

2007 - In Palmerston North on February 22nd to 25th.
Overall Winners 2007: Te Kapa Haka o Whangārā Mai Tawhiti.

Te Arawa Festival : In Daily Post on 20 Nov 2007 - "Eight Te Arawa teams took to the stage including Ngati Rangiwewehi, Nga Uri o Te Whanoa in their first public performance, Nga Huia Kaimanawa, Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue, Rongomai, Te Mataarae I Orehu and Ngati Wahiao. There were also five invited teams from outside Te Arawa's rohe (boundary) - Taniwharau, Taonga Mai Tawhiti, Te Iti Kahurangi, Te Rautahi and Tu Te Manawa Maurea" 

2009 – Te Arawa Regional Winners to perform at Te Matatini in Tauranga 21-22 February 2009. Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao; Te Mataarae I Orehu; Nga Uri o Te Whanoa and Manaia. in Daily Post on 18 Feb 2009. 
Profile : Nga Uri o Te Whanoa : "A group predominantly made up of recognised kaihaka and extended whanau that have been profoundly blessed through the teachings of Atareta Maxwell". in Nga Tatangi a Te Whare Karioi pg. 70 (this book is available from the Maori Collection on the 1st Floor of Te Aka Mauri Rotorua Library.

Overall Winners 2009: Te Waka Huia.