Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembrance at Waikumete

Back to Waikumete Cemetery in Glen Eden today. I was heading into Henderson for a West Auckland Historical Society function (celebration of the naming of Fuller Lane near Glendene), but -- I have been after a shot of a power board box here for quite some time, so dinged the bell on the bus, got off just up the road, and headed back to the Soldiers Cemetery at the corner, beside the original entrance gates to the cemetery.

The cenotaph was put up by the Auckland Returned Services Association in 1921 for those who served during World War I.

On the eastern face are marked the names of places where the men served: Samoa, Egypt, Gallipoli, France, Belgium, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Salonika. In Maori on the western face: "Kia Ratou I Mata Kia Tu" and "Kia Ora Ai Te Ao."

A seat was installed to the south of the monument by the Victoria League. Just behind is the 1963 memorial to commemorate 57 servicemen of the Auckland Province who lost their lives in and around New Zealand during both World Wars and "to whom the fortunes of war denied a known and honoured grave." A brief look at the Auckland War Memorial Museum's Cenotaph database seems to indicate that many of the World War I casualties on the plaques died at sea while en route to England, at least one within two months of cessation of hostilities. This is another one of those lists of names which hopefully someone can get a bit of time going through the database so that something about the lives that were lost is known to the future. I might give it a go some day.

What kept attracting my attention to this place, however, was the power box artwork.

Those poppies stand out when you're caught in a bit of a traffic jam or, like me, gazing out of a bus window at the surroundings, looking for street art for this blog day by day.


  1. thank you for this Lisa, many of my immigrant relatives are buried here.

  2. Ohhh one of my favourite...haunts LOL :-))))

    Those boxes are just fantastic! Love love loveee them :-)

    I've got a pile more photos of soldiers graves from Waikumete to upload to flickr and edit..sooo time consuming but i love it! Have taken to twittering each one as i complete editing...think my twitter friends will tire of me LOL but you never know who it might help! I send in the photos to Cenotaph also to update their records and got to the stage i sent so many that now my fellow museum armoury workmates asked me to send in spreadsheet form LOL! I find it very satisfying :-)

    Maybe one day you'll get that list done! [I spend half my life on Cenotaph it seems!]

  3. Today here in Melbourne, there was a service to remember our Aborigines who fought in the wars. Not even citizens of Australia but they still fought for Australia. Just curious, did Maori fight too? Significant numbers?

  4. Hi Amy -- cheers.

    Hi Sandy -- I can well believe that they'd like a spreadsheet of data from you! I think what you do to document and record info relating to the gravesites is wonderful.

    Hi Andrew -- Yes indeed, Maori fought in World War I (Gallipoli and onward) and World War II. You haven't heard of the Maori Battalion? Main difference betwen Maori and Aborigines, though, is that here, we had separate Maori electorates from the 19th century, so Maori were not only citizens of the British Empire, but they also had the vote from fairly early in the piece. However, there was opposition initially during WWI to have anyone fighting on the Allied side who wasn't European by descent, so at first those Maori who wanted to enlist were told no by order from London. Until the Algerians got into the act with the French, and Indian troops were called up at Suez -- and then the NZ government capitulated. Part of the trilogy of essays I wrote on the training camps at Avondale covers this: Waiatarua. Arguably the first "diggers" were those of the Pioneer Maori Battalion who, during most of the France and Belgium campaigns, did laboring work and were dubbed "diggers" by August 1916 by the British, a term later applied to Australian troops in general.

    Added to that, people from Niue and Cook Islands also fought during WWI under the British flag, both island groups then dependencies of NZ.

  5. Thanks for your kind comment Lisa :-)

    As an aside, i was driving to work today and spotted another large painted box! I've not noticed it before[you're having an arty effect on me LOL!]... it was outside Vodafone shop on Broadway not far from Khyber Pass. It looked like buttoned upholstery with some sort of metallic strip running vertically on it... hmmm like a car part or something. It has me perplexed, i can't work it out at all! Just tried to find it on street view google and the box doesn't appear to be there! Around 160 Broadway.