A joint project between local people and the Hastings District Council at Maraekakaho’s War Memorial site came together just in time for this year’s Anzac Day commemorations.
A redesign of the village road layout and years of vehicles parking there had left the war memorial monument looking neglected.
An ambitious upgrade, however, including new bollards, 600 plants and a stylish history information board has transformed the much-loved monument to the men and women of Maraekakaho who served in both world wars.
The Hastings District Council provided the plan, expertise, materials and plants, and local community group, Focus Maraekakaho (Focus MKK) provided labour, with more than 80 people helping out at a planting day in April.
Focus MKK spokesman Jonathan Stockley said the group was amazed and delighted with the response.
“It was great to see so many people there, including our rural fire team watering everything in. We expected the planting to take most of the day but it was finished in just over an hour so we could relax and chat and enjoy the sausage sizzle provided by the council.”
Maraekakaho Church Hall, built in 1878 and one of the oldest halls in the district, was the setting for the annual Anzac Day service, followed by a march to the monument led by the City of Hastings Pipe Band, a flypast and gun salute.
Hamilton Logan and John Renton, who both have family ties to names on the monument, planted a Turkey Oak that they had chosen to replace one of the original nine trees planted in the 1970s.
Maraekakaho Church hosted a display of Red Cross memorabilia, and photographs and brief biographies of 24 of the soldiers and nurses remembered on the monument. This on-going research project was initiated by Focus MKK and will continue to collect more information about those who went to war.
Many visitors, including descendents, saw the display that was to remain open for two weeks to pupils of Maraekakaho School, which celebrated its 125th jubilee in April, studying the history of their community.
Enhancing local historic sites and recording local history was one of eight priority areas identified when the community started working with Hastings District Council and other agencies in 2014 to establish what was important for the wellbeing of this growing community.
The outcome was the Maraekakaho Community Plan 2017- 2022, which aims to improve road safety, build community spirit, protect and enhance waterways and increase action on all aspects of residents’ health – mental and physical.
Hastings district councillor George Lyons attended the Anzac Day commemorations and said it was great to see some of the actions sought in the community plan coming to fruition.
“It’s important that as a council we have a thorough understanding of our communities’ needs and get their input into what they see as important for their wellbeing.”
Photo: More than 80 people attended the community planting day to prepare the area for Anzac Day.
Posted: 8 May 2019