Topic: From Tauranga to the Trenches (2014) by Fiona Kean

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From Tauranga to the Trenches by Fiona Kean delves into the stories of Tauranga people who served during World War I (1914-1918). ISBN: 9780473294984. Reviewed by Debbie McCauley.

From Tauranga to the Trenches (2014) by Fiona KeanRich with photographs and memorabilia, the book also contains excerpts from letters and diaries written by men serving overseas. The time period ranges from the declaration of war on 4 August 1914 through to serving overseas, the Influenza Pandemic, peace celebrations, British war brides, return to normal life and Tauranga's Memorial Gates. Also covered are the war effort at home, the role of women and children and the concerns of those at home.

The inclusion of a contents page, introduction, detailed Roll of Honour with photographs, sources list and index help to round out this truly valuable contribution to a horrific period in world history and place it into a local context. Lovely extras like the inclusion of war embroidery on the cover page and the embroidered postcard (It's a long way to Tipperary - Bowers Green Collection) opposite the introduction really personalise the story.

'While Tauranga's attention stayed focused on the fortunes of the men and women known to them, these same men and women remained connected to their town. In letters home they favourably compared Tauranga to places they visited, they asked for town gossip, and longed for parcels and letters from loved ones. The desire that they should return to Tauranga was constant and expressed in writing and in deeds' - Fiona Kean (p. 1).

The book compliments the ‘From Tauranga to the Trenches' exhibition of World War I history created by Tauranga Heritage Collection coordinator Fiona Kean and Cultural Heritage Manager Dean Flavell. Two customised steel shipping containers house the mobile exhibition which was produced by Tauranga City Council's Heritage Collection using a grant from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board and with the support of WW100 Tauranga and the Hauraki Regimental Association. Fiona's book was launched at the official exhibition opening at Tauranga Art Gallery on Friday 29 August 2014.

The exhibition highlights the story of First World War stretcher-bearer for the New Zealand forces Private Reginald Alfred Watkins (1885-1916). It was displayed in Tauranga's Masonic Park for a two week period (Saturday, August 30 until Friday, September 12) and then transported to a variety of Tauranga locations which included schools, marae, rest homes and RSA's. Reginald Watkins was killed by shrapnel whilst carrying wounded. His story is just one of 10 Tauranga district exhibitions planned for the next five years.

Also on display in Masonic Park were 107 white crosses honouring each soldier Tauranga lost during World War I. The space was first blessed by Reverend Kotene Pihema before Tauranga RSA president Dick Frew, Mount Maunganui RSA vice-president Terry Smith, WW100 coordinator Paul Anderson and NZ Fire Service representative Andy Collins placed them on site.

Author: Fiona Kean
Cover: Silhouette by Captain Oakley (1882-1960)
Designer: Fiona Kean
Publisher: Tauranga Heritage Collection (Tauranga City Council)
First Published: August 2014
ISBN: 978-0-473-29498-4
RRP: $25

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From Tauranga to the Trenches (2014) by Fiona Kean