Community Contributed

Awapuni Memorial Rededication

Manawatū Heritage2020-03-23T18:00:35+00:00
The Awapuni Memorial was rededicated at the ceremony at the Palmerston North Race Course on Thursday 20 October

The following is the address given by Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck at the ceremony. Darren Beck was instrumental in leading the project team over two years, to ensure that the dilapidated memorial and surroundings were refurbished.

On parade today is the RNZAMC Banner.  In the New Zealand Army the term Colour pertains to Guidons, Colours and Banners.  Where Guidons are carried by armoured units and Colours by infantry units or the Officer Cadet School, Banners are presented to units or corps by Royal or Vice-Regal personages. The custom of carrying Colours or Banners dates back centuries to those early warriors who fixed their family badges or crests to poles and held them aloft in battle for the purpose of indicating their position and acting as a rallying point.   In later times Army regiments paraded their colours and emblazoned them with their proud battle honours again using them as a rallying point in battle.  Today these colours are at the heart of our customs and traditions and are used for ceremonial purposes.  The RNZAMC Banner on parade today was presented by the Colonel-in-Chief, Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Richard, KG, GCVO.  It is known as The Prince Richard Banner.  The Prince Richard Banner was received into the RNZAMC and consecrated on the 20 May 2010 at Linton Camp, Palmerston North.   The Prince Richard Banner is an outward sign of the RNZAMC’s heritage, an acknowledgement of the important role it performs today, and the role its predecessors performed with courage and resilience in the past.  The Banner represents the focal point for the traditions, loyalty, and spirit of the RNZAMC.

I’m Lt Col Darren Beck the Regimental Colonel of the RNZAMC and Chairman of the Awapuni Medical Memorial Centenary Restoration Project.  I would like to acknowledge the presence of our special guests today His Worship the Mayor Grant Smith Comd 1 Bde Col Brett Wellington, Comd JOHG Capt Corinna Bruce and our Col Comdt RNZAMC Col Dave Roseveare.  This Memorial was dedicated on 3 Dec 1929 by the Governor General at the time to recognise the Medical Services staff who lost their lives in WW1.  It was erected at the Awapuni Racecourse in recognition of the importance of Race course and the city as a training base.

Awapuni itself hosted the Wellington district mobilisation camp in August–September 1914 prior to the decision to consolidate and centralise the training of all future reinforcements at a new, central camp on the Trentham military reserve, in the Hutt Valley and Awapuni sister Race course.   Palmerston North camp was easily the largest and busiest of the four mobilisation camps with almost half the initial NZEF Main Body of 8400 trained here.  In addition the New Zealand Medical Corps trained its officers and soldiers here from October 1915 to February 1919.  This was the district’s longest-running and most important contribution to the national training system.  The Centenary of the 1st World War provides us with an opportunity to renew our pledge to never forget and this was the genesis of this restoration project.  Memorials are a tangible link to our past and represent a promise made.  In July 2014 the 2nd Health Support Battalion (NZ) and the RNZAMC Fund established the Awapuni Medical Memorial Centenary Project with key partners in recognition that the memorial required significant restoration and site remediation.  The RNZAMC and key partners, the PNCC and Race Inc, committed ourselves to restoring, reinvigorating, and rededicating this memorial.  The Project objectives included the need to preserve the original design features and functionality of the memorial as an impressive water feature and incidentally as a bore and irrigation reservoir for the Awapuni Racecourse.  There was also a pressing need to improve the aesthetics, accessibility, and awareness of the memorial.

For those who have been on this journey with us or who are aware of its condition of the memorial in 2014 I am sure you will agree that we have achieved these objectives. We also made a commitment to rededicate the memorial to the fallen and make it a gathering place for our contemporary medical and Health personnel from across Defence and across generations, after all, Palmerston North remains the primary training ground for NZ Army medical staff who deploy overseas on operations today.    So here we are today having achieved our intent with a fair degree of pride, satisfaction and a small bit of relief.  On reflection it is important to acknowledge the support we have received to get us to this point.  Firstly my RNZAMC Corps fund committee and unit staff, our direct partners in the PNCC and Race Inc.    The PNCC in particular for access to a range of staff, support and services.  Race Inc for putting up with a work site for two years and related disruption to road access and course irrigation, thanks also for the work site catering and access to tools and equipment. There was also a large degree of respect and trust demonstrated throughout.  What that means is that nobody ever said no and where no comment was an implied go for it..  If trust and goodwill was all we needed then we would have been complete within a month.  The reality was we needed money and over $200,000 to be precise.  This required us to mobilise significant community funding support from across the country.  In particular I’d like to formally acknowledge:  The Lotteries Grant Board and its WWI Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Fund  Pub Charity  The NZ Racing Board  Lion Foundation  Central Energy Trust  Mainland Foundation  The RNZAMC Corps Fund and 2 HSB UPF  TG McCarthy Trust  Linton Executive Council  Veterans Affairs NZ  The RSA Trust  The Eastern and Central Community Trust  The PNCC Cultural Heritage Fund  Our medical partners Laerdal and Skin Shield  For services to the project:  Studio Pacific Architecture  EPIC Productions  Waiareka Contractors NZ Ltd and WO2 John Flintoft  Acrow Scaffold  Guardian Tree Services  Higgins Contracting  McIntosh Cranes  Max Tarr Industrial  2nd Engineer Regiment and the School and Military Engineering  WO2 Paul Cottington  Finally the medics and other health staff  who have worked on site over the last two year.  Like those before you