Sharing war stories
The ‘ American invasion’ of US Marines into New Zealand 70 years ago will be celebrated in Porirua later this month, with residents offered the opportunity to tour campsites and share stories.
At any one time between June 1942 and mid-1944, 45,000 US Marines were camped in New Zealand.
Up to 20,000 were based at Queen Elizabeth Park in Kapiti but there were also camps in Titahi Bay, Motukaraka Pt and Judgeford. It was a coming together of well-fed, charming young Americans and intrigued New Zealanders, Linda Fordyce from Pataka said.
‘‘It was a very exciting time, the Yanks loved being here for R & R, this was a wonderful place for them.’’
While the museum had a large exhibition for the 60th anniversary, this time they have taken a different tack. On May 30 there will be a bus tour of the campsites ( departing from Pataka at 10am, cost of $35) and on June 2 from 10am-3pm there will be a ‘‘ sharing stories session’’ in the Helen Smith Room.
‘‘We want as many people to come down and share their memories and even objects, with us, even if you don’t think it’s much. We need to get this oral history down before it’s lost. People might even be more open about romances all these years on . . . ’’
Ms Fordyce said she had already heard from women who ironed Marines’ shirts at Takapuwahia Marae and thenyoung boys who accepted cigarettes from Marines so they could sell them on. Aotea College students will be on hand to record, with permission, some of the tales in people’s own words.
The bus trip cost will include lunch and screening of Gaylene Preston’s film War Stories Our Mother Never Told Us at the Lighthouse Cinema in Pauatahanui, with Ms Preston giving a talk beforehand.
As part of the celebrations the US Marine Forces Pacific Band will play at Te Rauparaha Arena on June 11, from 10.30am.
For more information contact Pataka reception on 237 1511 or go to pataka.org/events.
Boys of yesterday: Linda Fordyce from Pataka couldn’t help but smile at the sight of these US Marines, gathered by curator Bob Maysmor for an exhibition 10 years ago. They will grace the walls of the Helen Smith Room on June 2. In country: US Marines at their camp in Judgeford – which will be visited on May 30 – during World War II.