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More WWI battles added to our Memorial Forest

24 February 2016

Maggie Barry with Mercury Bay school children at the official launch of the WWI Memorial Forest at the Gallipoli site, Cathedral Cove, June 2015

New Zealand soldiers who were killed in the battles of Passchendaele and the Somme will now be commemorated as part of the Coromandel's World War I Memorial Forest, thanks in part to a $122,205 Lotteries grant.

(Photo: Local school children have been active in our WWI Memorial Forest project. Here, Mercury Bay students help Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry at the official launch of the project at the Gallipoli site at Cathedral Cove in June 2015.)

Our Council gave the go-ahead for this year's Stage 2 of the Memorial Forest project at its meeting this week, which will add another 5,017 trees to the existing 3,000 native trees at the current six sites.

Each site represents a specific battle or pays tribute to the men who died from a specific part of the Coromandel, with one tree planted for each man killed. There is at least one Memorial Forest site in each Community Board area of the District.

Anzac Day tribute

Planting will resume around Anzac Day this year - 25 April, once the weather becomes cooler.

If you wish to make a long-lasting contribution to the Memorial Forest, you can do so by donating the cost of a tree: $25.

 And, you can dedicate the tree to one of the 18,166 New Zealanders who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war. Our Memorial Forest project web page has all the details. The tree's GPS location will be recorded and you will be issued with a memorial certificate bearing the soldier's name and the tree's location.

As part of Stage 2 of the Memorial Forest, the Gallipoli site above Cathedral Cove will be completed with the planting of another 1,279 trees to bring the total to 2,779 - one for each New Zealand soldier killed in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

The Passchendaele Memorial Forest site at the new Mercury Bay cemetery already has 500 trees planted. Another 1500 trees will be planted this year to match the total of 2000 men killed in the battle that became a byword for the butchery of the Western Front in the Great War.

The Somme Memorial Forest site is to be established at the Stella Evered Memorial Park, a private reserve by the Purangi Estuary administered as a publicly accessible natural site via a deed of trust by the Perpetual Guardian.

The Perpetual Guardian, a partner in the Memorial Forest project with our Council and other agencies, RSAs and volunteer groups, has made land available for the Memorial Forest.

Some 2,300 trees will be planted near the Purangi Estuary - again, one for each New Zealand soldier killed in the Somme battle of 1916.

We already have Memorial Forest sites at:

  • Cathedral Cove (Gallipoli): 1,500 of 2,779 trees planted so far. The remainder to be planted this year.
  • Whangamata (Battle of Le Quesnoy): 122 trees planted to represent the 122 killed in the 4 November 1918 battle.
  • Coromandel Town ("Supreme Sacrifice"): The 1,000 trees here acknowledge the ultimate price made by all those who never returned from the war. There are also 39 trees to commemorate the 39 men from the Coromandel Town area who were killed in WWI.
  • Pauanui (Sinai-Palestine Campaign): The Tangitarori Lane site pays tribute to the 640 men killed in the Middle East. 200 trees have been planted so far.
  • Thames (Thames war dead): The Memorial Forest site at the south entrance to town commemorates the 247 fallen from the Thames area. 247 trees planted.
  • Tairua (Tairua-Hikuai war dead): This site at the new Tairua Cemetery honours 48 local men who gave their lives. Completed - 48 trees planted.

Funding and partners

The Lotteries grant was awarded in December 2015 and in 2014 we received backing from Waikato Regional Council with a grant of $40,000.

Through this coming winter planting season, we will continue to work with our partners Waikato Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, local schools, RSAs, Lions and other community groups.