Topic: New Zealand Tunnelling Company Memorial (Waihi)
On Friday 22 January 2016 a large crowd gathered at Gilmour Lake Reserve, Waihi, to take part in the dedication of the WW1 New Zealand Tunnelling Company Memorial. Photos: Fiona Kean.
A large steel sculpture and memorial wall, set against the green backdrop of Waihi’s hills, stand as a tribute to all WW1 tunnellers and the difficult work they undertook in the face of terrible conditions.
Waihi Mayor John Tregidga welcomed dignitaries, descendants and the public and commented on the importance of the memorial. “Here we have a sense of belonging to a community and a story which has its roots in the past but which has ties very much present today. This is not the end. It’s a beginning.”
Tauranga's WW100 Committee organised a memorial stone for the wall which was paid for by the committee and Mayor Stuart Crosby. The obsidian used was found on the Otumoetai foreshore many years ago and would have originally come from Tuhua (Mayor Island). The plaque was organised by Ray MacKenzie of BOP Memorials. It reads; 'Tauranga, In memory of the men of our district who served in the NZ Tunnelling Company WWI'.
French Ambassador to New Zealand Florence Jeanblanc-Risler spoke of the gratitude her country felt towards the men - one of several speakers to acknowledge the significance of the tunnellers’ efforts. A highlight of the afternoon occurred when representatives from the Cook Islands expressed their emotions in a traditional Imene Tuki hymn.
After the blessing of the memorials and wreath laying, a flyover of three Harvards concluded the dedication.