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Katikati e-memorial for soldiers who left from Katikati to serve in World War One

A project completed in association with the Katikati Returned Services Association.

Information kindly researched and provided by P.R.Lascelles NZEF Research Service with additional material provided by local families.

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Lest we forget

The First World War had a huge impact on the small town of Katikati where farming was the main occupation. Prior to the war, the Bay of Plenty Times had many articles relating to activities in the town. With the change of ownership of the paper in 1913 plus the advent of the war Katikati news was very sparse for several years.

The population of the town was only around 400, and for 60 men to have participated in the war meant some families had two and three sons away. This would have placed a far greater workload on the womenfolk, many of whom had to take over the men's work.

From the list of names on the RSA Roll of Honour it is interesting to note that many of them had previously been unknown in the early recorded history of the Katikati District.

Ellen McCormack (née MacMillan)
local historian

Above: 'These Gates were erected by the residents of Katikati in grateful recognition of the splendid service rendered in the Great War by the boys of this district who answered the call of King and Country.'

Below: detail from the mural on the wall of the Katikati RSA

Pastures Green

Pastures green, poppy fields,
graves for soldiers fallen.
A wooden cross marks a resting place,
a thousand miles from loved ones.

Rusted wire, silent guns,
trenches torn and broken.
A helmet rests on a rifle butt,
the tools of war unspoken.

Anzac Days, colours blaze,
their battle honours borne on.
Old men march and a bugle plays,
in memory of the fallen.

Mike Subritzky 1965

Written after the announcement by Keith Holyoake that New Zealand will contribute troops to Vietnam.

Copyright Mike Subritzky - The Flak Jacket Collection

above: The Memorial Gates, date unknown

The Last Anzac

They buried Doug Dibley today,
a fine old gentleman who died in his sleep,
at Rotorua on a hot December afternoon.
No warriors death for him on Walker's Ridge,
where the poppies fed on the blood and frozen dreams;
of good young men from Wellington.

A day's leave and a seven year old son at my side,
we bore witness as six tall infantrymen in service dress,
raised him high from the gun carriage,
and quietly marched his flag draped casket to eternal rest;
among the trees and hills of his beloved Ngongotaha.

Volleys fired and mournful bugles call,
we shall not see his like again,
no more grow old as yet no more remain,
with living memory of that time,
when machine gun and bayonet did their awful work,
and Anzac boys closed with desperate Turk,
among the gullies and crumbling ridges;
of a foreign coast that was Gallipoli.

Remember this day my son,
remember this hour and this place,
for here and now they bury this nation's last lament,
to a time of King and Empire.
And the poppies on the ridges grow,
and the scrub thorn in the valleys thrive,
and the memory of young mates who died;
we sod this day with Trooper Dibley.

Mike Subritzky 1997

Copyright Mike Subritzky - The Flak Jacket Collection

Anzac Day At Katikati

Memorial Gate Opened

Anzac Day was very fittingly and impressively observed at the opening of the Memorial Gates, which have been erected there at the entrance to the Domain. The ceremony was performed at 2.30 p.m. by Mr. C. E. Macmillan, in the presence of from three to four hundred people including many visitors from Tauranga and Waihi.

The proceedings were opened by a short appropriate prayer by the Rev. Mr. Tucker of Waihi.

Mr. Kenneth Morton, who presided, in a brief opening address, said that the district had sent away to the war every available man, several of whom had lost their lives, and the gathering that day was to unveil the monument erected in their memory. The boys who had fallen, and in fact all who went away, were boys that every country could be proud of. The monument had been erected in affectionate memory of them. He apologised for the absence of Mr. Hilles, who had been chairman of the committee and had done such good work in connection with the memorial.

A selection was then played by the band, and Mr. Morton then called upon Mr. Macmillan to formally open the gates.

Mr Macmillan said he could not but feel it a very great honour to have been asked to perform the ceremony. It was appropriate that the opening of the gates shoild take place on Anzac Day, which will go down in the history of New Zealand as the day on which our young men - without exception volunteers - entered into and struck the first blow in world politics, and in defence of those ideals, principals and privileges which are the pride of the British race. They were the same ideals as our forefathers fought for. It was on that day in 1915, at that famous landing place at Gallipoli, that the first blood of our young men was shed, and the manner in which they fought must forever throw lustre on the people of New Zealand and the Empire. He had as a boy wondered why, in the church service, it was ever necessary to offer up a petition as 'Give Peace in Our Time, O Lord.' It was impossible to them to believe that such things as war could exist. We thought that the might of the British nation would police the world and maintain order. We now unfortunately realised that petition was very necessary. He felt therefore that on such an occasion it was the duty of anyone addressing the people to urge everyone to conduct their affairs that peace would for all time be insured. He felt that all would agree that it was in the hands of the people of the British speaking nations to ensure that peace, but if war did come again, that it would be conducted on humantarian lines and that such things as occured in the late war did not occur again. The destiny of the nation was in our hands during our lives, and afterwards in the hands of our children, and small though a community might be it still could do a great deal of good, as had been proved by the fact that so many men from that district had laid down their lives in the service of their country, and the gathering that day was to unveil a memorial to them. We should render such service to humanity that in future it would not be necessary for our sons to give their lives in the manner that those brave boys had done during the late war. He would like to point out that the memorial, although commonly called a war memorial, was not to commemorate the fact that there had been a war, but should be looked upon a memorial of service rendered to their nation and to mankind. We did not glory in the fact that we went to war, and the memorial had not been erected for that reason, but as the chairmen had appropriately put it, as a mark of affection and in perpetual memory of those who served in it, and when the people pass in and out of those gates to enjoy themselves on the Domain, it would be with the feeling that had it not been for the services rendered by the men whose names appeared on the tablet it would not now be possible to enjoy ourselves, perfectly free and no one daring to make us afraid.

Mr. Macmillan then unveiled the tablets in the main pillars of the gates, while a party of returned soldiers under Mr. G. Dunton, stood to attention. Mr. Macmillan called upon Mrs. Hunter (as the oldest surviving member of the Vessey Stewart settlers still resident in the district), to cut the ribbon across the gates. This done, the Last Post was sounded by Mr. Geo. Henry, and so ended a very impressive ceremony.

Addresses by Mr. Donaldson, (Mayor of Waihi), the Rev. Mr. Tucker of Waihi, and the reading of a portion of the 85th Psalm by Mr. Baines followed, and after Mr. Tucker had pronounced the Benediction, the National Anthem was sung.

The gates were then opened and the returned soldiers first marched through into the Domain, followed by the people. Afternoon tea was then served.

The gates are a very handsome piece of work, the cost being approximately 150 pounds. They were erected under supervision of Mr. W. J. Gray and are a striking testimony that the residents of Katikati are deeply conscious of their young men rendered in the war. They will stand for all time as their grateful tribute to the memory of those who gave their lives in the Great Cause. Across the main gates appears - 'Memorial to Our Fallen in the Great War'. On the left hand pillar is a tablet engraved 'These gates were erected by the residents of Katikati in grateful recognition of the splendid service rendered in the Great War by the boys of this district, who answered the call of King and Country, On the right hand pillar is a tablet, headed - "Roll of Honour Killed in Action'. Then appear the following names:

Fr. Cpl. Herbert Nelson
Cpl. Albert Dunton
Pt. Harry Pritt
Pt. Sidney Norris
Pt. Robert Evans
Pt. George Squinobal
Pt. William Busby
Pt. George Stewart
Pt. Otto Digglemann
Pt. Gilbert McClung

A report in the Bay of Plenty Times of events from 25 April 1921

Footnote: Charles Edward Macmillan, MP (reported above) was the uncle of Colin MacMillan who served in the First World War and was killed in action in the Second World War. His name appears on the 1939-1945 Roll of Honour on the Katikati War Memorial Hall.