Topic: A tale of two memorials
The cenotaph in the public gardens was not the only Levin memorial to fallen World War I soldiers.
Until June 1971 there was the Weraroa Peace Gates, which were built at the same time as the cenotaph and opened just a few weeks later.
They stood st the Oxford Street-Mako Mako Road corner of the Weraroa Domain but were removed to make way for road widening.
In Levin: The Making of a Town Anthony Dreaver writes: "The southern domain, originally a gravel reserve, had never been fully developed and was leased for grazing.
"The Levin and District Beautifying Society wanted to upgrade it, and Weraroa Football Club wanted to play on it. The council agreed to put up a fence and the society planted macrocarpa shelter belts on the south and west.
"In autumn 1922 Miss Joan Bevan, candidate of the Weraroa Committee, won a Queen Carnival that raised £551. The committee decided to erect a dual-purpose memorial on Weraroa Reserve, both a Peach Arch for fallen soldiers and a line of trees dedicated to the town's pioneers."
We know from researching the background of the two memorials in old Chronicle files that there was some dissension amongst locals about the need for two memorials.
And a report in a 1922 paper on an RSA meeting clearly indicates that the group was not in favour of the Weraroa names going on the Levin cenotaph, which could explain the determination of a few Weraroa people build the gates and put names on them.
There was also some negative feelings in Weraroa itself, with a group believing that it was wrong to use funds raised at a Mardi Gras to build a fallen soldiers' memorial - that the honour of the soldiers was being belittled.
It is clear from a Chronicle report on July 5, 1922 that it had not been the original intention to use funds raised for beautifying the park to build memorial gates and that idea came later. Toilets and changing rooms were considered by some to be more important.
All except one of the names on the Cenotaph are also on the Weraroa Peace gates - and the exception is Rifleman Arthur Henry Symonds who died on the Somme at the age of 22 and whose father Charles lived in Seddon Street, Weraroa.
The Cenotaph was unveiled on March 11, 1923 and the formal opening for the Peace Gates was to have been just one week later.
However the Prime Minister Massey who was to perform the ceremony was unable to attend on the chosen day, and it was changed to April 11, although the rather posh programme for the occasion had obviously already been printed as it bears the wrong date.
When the memorial was demolished the gates and the tablets with the names inscribed were stored in the council's depot, but they have now, sadly, disappeared.
Source: Daily Chronicle, Thursday June 28, 2007.