Topic: Weraroa Peace Gate
Weraroa Memorial Peace Gate
This gate which was opened by the Right Hon. WF Massey PC., Premier of New Zealand on Wednesday 21 March at 11.30am.
|Program - Part 1|
|Opening Hymn - "All people that on earth do dwell" - choirs|
|Speech - Mr Thompson, Chairman, Weraroa Mardi Gras.|
|Dedication Solo, Quartet & Chorus - Music by Miss Thelma Shaw, L.T.C.L., L.L.C.M.|
|Mrs Banks Presents Key to Premier - Introduced by Mr Wise, Sec. Weraroa Mardi Gras.|
|Gold Key presented by Mr L.A. Bowen, Waipukurau|
|Speech & Opening - Right Hon. WF Massey.|
|Psalm 46 - "God is our Refuge & our Strength" - Choirs|
|Prayer - Rev Davies Address - Rev Frost Speech - Mr Linklater, M.P.|
|Program - Part 11|
|Dedication of Trees Planted in Memory of Pioneers|
|Opening Hymn - "O God, our Help in ages past" - Choirs|
|Tablet Affixed by Mr Tom Bevan|
|PIONEERS - The late Messrs P Bartholomew, J Davies, M Fosella & B.R Gardener|
|Chorus & Tablets Affixed - Mr F Roe, Chairman Weraroa Ground Reserve Committee|
|PIONEERS - the late Messrs J. Malcolm, H. McDonald, J.R. McDonald and J. McIntyre - Mr Parker
PIONEERS - The late Messrs. R Prouse, F. Stuckey, & T. Walker - Mr W.H. Field, M.P.
|Chorus and Tablets affixed|
|Speech - Requests Premier to plant a tree - Mr McLeavey
|Prayer - Rev Bawden Harris.|
|God Save the King|
PEACE MEMORIAL GATE
Weraroa’s Great Day
Prime Minister performs the ceremony
THE PIONEERS COMMEMORATED
Enthusiastically advocated, arduously toiled for and splendidly consummated, Weraroa’s ambitions were happily realised yesterday, when in glorious weather and before a large and representative audience, the Rt Hon. W, F, Massey performed the opening ceremony of the Peace Memorial Gates which now give entrance to Weraroa Park. Long before the time for the ceremony the crowd began to gather, and when the Main Trunk express arrived over a thousand people, including a large contingent of school children, had gathered at the junction of Oxford Street and Mako Mako Road.
The Prime Minister, who was accompanied by Sir John and Lady Luke, Messrs J Linklater, M.P. for the district, and J.A Nash, M.P. for Palmerston, and his private Secretary, Mr Thompson, was met at the station by the chairman and members of the Weraroa Committee and the Mayor. The party were regaled with a cup of morning tea by Mrs T Bevan at the residence, Mako Mako Road, and were then driven direct to the entrance to the Park, where the initial ceremony took place. The Salvation Army Band was present and assisted in the ceremony.
The proceedings were opened with the singing of the Old Hundredth, led by the choirs and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.
Apologies were read from Sir Maui Pomare and Mr H.D. Grocott, Chief Postmaster, Wellington.
HISTORY OF THE GATE
Mr W Thomson, who was chairman of the Weraroa Mardi Gras Committee during its fund-raising campaign, in his introductory remarks, said first and foremost they wished to extend a hearty welcome to the prime Minister and to apologise for having had to postpone the ceremony. That had been due to Mr Massey’s engagement in the Tauranga battle where he had been so deeply entrenched that several blasts of shrapnel from Weraroa had failed to dislodge him. Now flushed with a famous victory he was amongst them and in such good form that they certainly appreciated his presence. Mr Thompson also extended to Sir John and Lady Luke and the other members of Parliament a very hearty welcome and trusted that all the visitors would carry away with them very pleasant recollections of the gathering. The speaker said that the celebration that day was the result of the oath of allegiance taken by Queen Joan of Weraroa, as Queen-elect of the Mardis Gras, who contracted to do all within her power to further the ideal of the City Beautiful. When the Mardi Gras was first mooted, it was suggested that Weraroa should run a Queen for the purpose of placing the grounds in good playing order. At the time they were practically a wilderness. The first proposition, however, developed into something higher and bigger. With the amount of money raised it was possible to do something more than merely put the ground in good playing order. A concrete cricket pitch and a football ground had been laid down and theses would be of great benefit to the children of the school, who would have the right of using them for all time as a memorial to the brave deeds of the men who left our shores to fight for King, Empire and liberty. Mr Thompson mentioned that Mr Thomas Bevan had done splendid work in superintending the laying out of the grounds and the erection of the fence and gates, during the unavoidable absence of Mr Rere Nicholson through illness. Mr Bevan carrying out the whole of the work. Although Weraroa had carried through the scheme it should not be looked upon merely as a whole. The work done was not yet complete, and it needed only organisation to make the corner one of the beauty spots of the town and one that would prove an asset to the whole community. If the people were united and put aside all differences they could make the spot one to be proud of. Mr Thomson paid a tribute to the great work performed by Miss Bowen, postmistress of Weraroa, whose great gift for organisation had been mainly responsible for the success achieved, and he hoped she would be spared to carry on the work till the full scheme had been completed. Miss Bowen also had been responsible for the idea of planting the trees in memory of the pioneers. It was a happy thought and put a fitting crown on the proceedings. The speaker concluded amid applause, by thanking all who had worked so hard for the success attained.
“SHE HATH DONE WHAT SHE COULD”
The Mayor, Mr D.W. Matheson, then briefly introduced Mrs Banks, at the same time congratulating Queen Joan on her choice of the one who was to have the our of presenting the golden key – the gift of Mr L. A. Bowen, formerly of Levin and now of Waipukurau – to the Prime Minister.
The Mayor referred to the really wonderful work accomplished by Mrs Banks during the war period. In those four years she was personally responsible for preparing and despatching no fewer than 3700 garments for the needy of Great Britain. “I know of no woman who has done greater service and certainly none who did her work with less show or fuss, so that few outside of her immediate acquaintances realised the magnitude of the task she carried through.
Mrs Banks, who was received with hearty applause, then stepped forward and presented Mr Massey with the golden key with which to unlock the Peace Memorial Gates.
THE PRIME MINISTER SPEAKS
Mr Massey, looking remarkably fit and well, then stepped forward to the accompaniment of a warm round of applause. After returning thanks for the hearty welcome, Mr Massey said it was not the first time he had had the privilege of looking upon the residents of this district. He apologised for delaying the ceremony, but pleaded that much more urgent business detained him in the north. He was one of those who believed in the maxims of scripture especially that which said “Whatsoever thy hand find to do, do it with thy might” (Applause). “I have” he added done something with all my might in the Auckland district”. It afforded him a great deal of pleasure to be present at the dedication of the memorial to the men who went to the war – not only to those who had fallen, but to those who had passed through the rigours of the training camps and found their way to the battlefields. They should remember the sacrifice made by the nurses who tended the sick and wounded soldiers. Nor should they forget the parents – the mothers who had pointed the way of duty to their sons and the wives who had sent their husbands to the field of honour. There were also those people who would have been glad to go, but duty and disability had detained them. Mr Massey paid a glowing tribute to the bravery of the men of the allies who had driven back to the country whence they came those mighty armies of the invader, who if he had succeeded in his design would have robbed us of that freedom which to many was dearer than life. In the words of Wordsworth –
“They must be free or die
Who speak the tongue that
Or had the faith that Milton held”
“We fail sometimes to realise the importance of the victory gained for us…. We should never forget the men who died to save us from a despotism and tyranny which, had it been successful would have smashed our Empire and put the clock of civilisation back a thousand years. We mourn to-day those who fell, but our sorrow is mingled with pride at the knowledge of their noble sacrifice. The British people for many centuries will remember the sacrifices and what happened in those awful and strenuous years of war, for it was that sacrifice which allowed them to live under the Empire’s flag in liberty and in such a glorious county as this, with everything they required for their happiness and sustenance. Mr Massey said he would like to quote Scripture again: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” A great many men and some women have given their lives for us, and we are here to honour and revere their memory. Their bodies to-day lie in foreign soil, but their names and deeds will never be forgotten. They did their duty and it is for us to do ours.”
UNLOCKING THE GATE
After the ceremony of unlocking the Gate, the official party filed through the brave, if somewhat diminutive, guard of honour of Boy Scouts, and then those assembled chanted Psalm 16, following which the Rev. J.C. Davies led in prayer.
PIONEER AND WARRIOR
In a brief and happy speech, Rev. Geo. Frost, on behalf of the churches of the town, said his office – to lift the function into a spiritual atmosphere – had been made easy by the Prime Minister’s speech. “if he were a Methodist local preacher I should say he had preached a very fine sermon with numerous appropriate illustrations on the text he had chosen from Scripture. We are reminded today of two classes of heroes we are honouring, and we have made them one because the pioneer settler and is warrior son are really of the same stock and their work has been carried out in the same spirit. We should especially be saved from having a pessimistic spirit. We are indeed called upon to have a generous conceit of ourselves when we remember the race from which we are sprung – a noble race perpetuating the highest ideals, ideals for which our great Master stood. As He lived so must we also live. As the pioneers were, so must we also be – always helpful, always courageous, always self-sacrificing.” Mr Frost concluded his brief but eloquent discourse by exhorting his hearers to make this a city in glorious reality, a city such as the old Greek philosopher dreamed of – “that it shall be good to look through.” So should these islands be made –
“Great, glorious and free,
As flowers of the earth, as gems of the sea.”
THE MEMBER FOR THE DISTRICT
Mr Joseph Linklater, M.P. for the district, said he was thankful to have a part in the opening of the Peace Gates in honour of the men of Levin and district who fought in the defence of the Empire. It was fitting he said that they had the Prime Minister with them, for no man had been in closer touch with the soldiers in camp and at the front, and he could be relied on to see that they had a square deal now. “The men who left these shores were well-known to us. They went to the front and did nobly and well. We knew perfectly well they would give a good account of themselves. They were acclaimed as heroes – the British Army was glad to receive them as comrades and the British citizens were proud to own them as kinsmen.” Mr Linklater said that when the French mission was here recently the officers, who viewed the stone of Remembrance were astonished to note the large number of names of men from this district who had made the great sacrifice. “The French,” they said, “will never forget that sacrifice. Those men are now sons of France because they are now part of the soil of France.” In conclusion Mr Linklater said: “These men have made a great sacrifice. Let that sacrifice guide our conscience and guard our future lives.”
Memorial Trees planted
The scene of operations was then transferred to the tree-planting in commemoration of the pioneers. Owing to the lateness of the hour the ceremony was curtailed and the speeches made as brief as possible.
A large tablet of beaten bronze on a concrete pedestal was first affixed by Mr Thos. Bevan and Sir John Luke briefly referred in reminiscent vein to the great work of the pioneers. He read a telegram from Mr W.R. Field, M.P. who was unable to be present but wished the gathering every success. “I stand myself as one of the foremost pioneers,” said Sir John, “because in 1891, our firm made the first big plant for the Prouse Bros. And we erected it here, the fore-runners of the prosperity of this district.” Sir John paid a great tribute to the Herculean labours of the pioneers and exhorted the boys and girls present to emulate their spirit of self-sacrifice, particularly mentioning their late schoolmaster, Mr James McIntyre.
Mr F.J. Roe, chairman of the Weraroa Ground Committee, then stepped forward, and in a few well chosen words, referred to the first group of pioneers – Messrs P. Bartholomew, J. Davies, M Fosella and B.R.Gardener. Mr Roe himself was in the district in 1888 when there were no roads and no bridges and when the place was covered with heavy bush. The great change wrought was due to the work of these old pioneers, and he trusted their fine spirit would be emulated by the present generation.
Mr F.E. Parker referred to Messrs J. Malcolm, H McDonald, J.R. McDonald and J. McIntyre – men all who had built wisely and well the foundations on which the district’s prosperity was founded. A tribute was paid to the splendid record of Mr McIntyre as schoolmaster, and to Messrs H. and J.R. McDonald who had so materially helped to change the countryside from scrub to plough and from bush to pasture. A tribute was also paid to Mr James Malcolm who was really the pioneer of the roads and bridges in this county.
Mr Jas. McLeavey said he felt it a very great honour to speak to the memory of four pioneers – Messrs James and Richard Prouse, F Stuckey and T Walker. He referred to the fact that Mr Stuckey’s was the first house erected in Levin and that Mr Walker was one of the first managers of the State Farm. Mr McLeavey also spoke feelingly of his friendship for Mr R Prouse. Finally tribute was paid to the good work done by Mr Rere Nicholson.
Mr Massey was then invited to plant a tree in commemoration of his visit; the Prime Minister, with his accustomed agility, complied, the operation being closely watched by the crowd.
The proceedings were then concluded with a brief and appropriate prayer by the Rev. Bawden Harris.
The Premier and members of Parliament were then entertained at luncheon at the Grand Hotel by the Weraroa Committee, where a happy social hour was spent. At the conclusion Mr Massey’s health was proposed by the chairman, Mr. W. Thomson, and the Prime Minister responded in a racy speech which was keenly enjoyed by those present.
The afternoon was spent on the Levin Park Domain, a garden party and sports programme occupying the attention of many visitors. A report of these proceedings is held over till tomorrow’s issue.
The Levin Chronicle Thursday April 12, 1923
(Typed and contributed by Lorraine Wright
Adopt an Anzac)
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