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Conservation Minister Maggie Barry launches WWI Memorial Forest

05 June 2015

Maggie Barry at the official launch of the WWI Memorial Forest at Cathedral Cove, 5 June 2015

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry has officially launched our Council's World War I Memorial Forest at a tree-planting ceremony at Cathedral Cove today - Arbor Day.

Ms Barry was on hand to help plant 100 trees at the site, on Public Conservation Land above the iconic Coromandel landmark. The first two native New Zealand trees were planted there on Anzac Day, the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli.

The New Zealand World War I Memorial Forest will eventually see thousands of native trees planted at a number of sites around Thames-Coromandel District.

The Cathedral Cove site represents the Gallipoli campaign, where 2,779 soldiers were killed and that number of trees is to be planted at the site over the next few years.

As part of the ceremony, local school children laid 2,779 flax crosses along the path through the newly planted trees.

2,779 flax crosses made by Mercury Bay school children at the Memorial Forest launch, 5 June 2015
Mercury Bay school children made nearly 3,000 flax crosses to represent the number of New Zealand soldiers killed at Gallipoli.

Other sites around the Coromandel will represent different battles or aspects of the war.

Deputy Mayor Peter French thanked all those who have been helping our Council on this major project.

"I want to acknowledge the support from the Department of Conservation, Waikato Regional Council, local iwi Ngati Hei, the local schools, the RSA and other community groups, including the Stella Evered Trust, for partnering with us in this project.

"As the trees grow and mature I'm sure the forests will become wonderful places for people to remember loved ones and they will become a significant part of our history for all visitors to walk through and pay their respects," Mr French says.

Joe Davis, from Ngati Hei, gave a blessing at the ceremony. He says it is humbling to see so many flax crosses, laid out close together on the forest path, each representing the life of one New Zealand soldier.

How to get involved

There will be Memorial Forest sites in each of our District's five Community Board areas.

At the Gallipoli site at Cathedral Cove 100 trees were planted today. More trees will be planted during the official planting season.  You can go online now to be one of the first 100 to donate a tree at the Gallipoli site.

When you donate a tree you receive a memorial certificate, which has the GPS coordinates of where your tree has been planted. When you go online there are three ways you can donate:

1 - Naming the tree in honour of a particular NZ soldier.

2 - Naming a tree in honour of an unknown soldier.

3 - Donating a tree on behalf of your family.

To donate please go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/donatetree and fill in your details.

Other sites will become available for donations as the sites around the District open up for planting.

For example, later this year a Council reserve at the northern entrance to Whangamata representing the Battle of Le Quesnoy, fought in the closing days of the war in 1918 will be planted.

One-hundred and twenty-two Kiwi soldiers died in the battle to liberate the French town of that name and so that number of trees will be planted at the reserve, which the Whangamata Community Board has voted to rename Le Quesnoy Park.

So please make a long-lasting contribution to the Memorial Forest by donating the cost of a tree: $100 (or $150 if you would like to plant the tree yourself).

To donate please go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/donatetree and fill in your details.

Our Council is working on the Memorial Forest project with schools, iwi, RSAs, service clubs, community groups and agencies including the Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council.

There's still lots of opportunity to get involved, contact our Economic Development Programme Manager Ben Dunbar-Smith on 07 868 0200 or email at ben.dunbar-smith@tcdc.govt.nz.

For more information on the Memorial Forest and all its sites across our District, see www.tcdc.govt.nz/ww1memorialforest.

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry at official launch of WWI Memorial Forest in Cathedral Cove
Digging deep: Maggie Barry lends a helping spade at the Memorial Forest launch