Gallipoli stories brought to life
Focus on local troops
A historic narrative about the men and women from Porirua who experienced life in Gallipoli during World War I, has been pieced together to link local names back to the community.
In collaboration with Plimmerton historian Allan Dodson, social history curator Alice Masters and heritage educator Linda Fordyce researched the stories and Porirua connections to bring the exhibition to life at Pataka.
Porirua Anzacs at Gallipoli honours the young men and women from the Porirua area, who were involved in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey between April and December 1915.
Though the exhibition opened only at the beginning of the month, Masters said it had been popular. People had been spending time reading about the Porirua soldiers.
‘‘Our focus has been on those from Porirua. It shows what life was like,’’ Masters said.
Local surnames include Boulton, Bennett, Auty, Earp and Sievers.
Masters said much of the research was done by Dodson and that the Porirua RSA supplied medals and items that once belonged to the men.
‘‘It would be great if there were more connections. We’re very keen to hear about the connections families might have with these names.’’
Dodson’s most memorable find was the stories of the staff from the Porirua Mental Hospital who signed up, many to the medical corps. Some were killed, some returned to England, some moved back to New Zealand.
He said it was exciting to find mention of Porirua in such a massive world event. He has been researching the subject for about four years.
‘‘It’s really unique to Porirua, which is what makes it so special,’’ he said.
Several medals on display are of significant stature, including a military cross given to Lieutenant Walter Leonard Cobb.
‘‘He’s a hero of mine,’’ Fordyce said. ‘‘He was the only man from Porirua in the WMR machine gun section.’’
Another Porirua connection comes from the Katene family – Rangi, Taku and Frederick – who were part of the early Maori contingent.
Porirua Anzacs at Gallipoli is to continue until 2017 as part of New Zealand’s World War I centenary.
Dodson will be joined by historians Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage during a discussion at Pataka on April 23, from 6pm till 9pm.
He will discuss the Porirua connections and the stories featured in Porirua Anzacs at Gallipoli.
Pataka’s Alice Masters, left, and Linda Fordyce hope there are public connections with the Porirua Anzacs at Gallipoli exhibition.