Moves to restore Waikoikoi memorial
A Waikoikoi war memorial committee is to be formed to look at the option of full replacement or repair of the monument, between Tapanui and Gore.
West Otago Community Board member Cecil Crawford, who has been leading the project, reported on progress at the last meeting, held at Tapanui last week.
The distinctive monument’s poor state of repair has been tabled in community board agendas for some months.
It is situated in a prominent position close to the West OtagoEastern Southland border on State Highway 90, on the Pukerau – Kelso intersection.
A public meeting was held recently at the Waikoikoi domain to get feedback from the community about how to proceed with the project, but was poorly attended, Crawford confirmed.
Despite this, he was confident the community wanted something done about the monument. ‘‘I think people are in favour.’’ There had been some discussion about how it would be paid for, for instance through Veteran Affairs New Zealand, and if the monument should be repositioned, or rebuilt smaller in scale, or if it could be repaired.
Clutha District councillor and community board member John Herbert said there needed to be more community input for Crawford’s and the board’s protection. He suggested forming a committee to represent community interests, ‘‘because we don’t want it to look like the Cecil Crawford show’’.
According to a written history in the book The Rich Harvest, Waikoikoi is a small district but with a proud record of service during times of war.
The Boer War 1899-1902 saw troopers James S. Robertson and Robert Simmers junior volunteer for active duty with the Fifth Contingent, with the community providing the two men with horses.
The names of 24 World War I soldiers are also on the memorial, with two of them, Private David Crawford and William J. Stark, never to return.
At the end of 1918, a public meeting was held to look at ways of commemorating those who had served and fallen in the Great War.
The memorial committee decided against a bridge, gate or a gold medal, in favour of a monument erected in the centre of the district at Waikoikoi.
It was unveiled by Margaret Cooper, wife of an original settler, William Cooper. At the time, a Howitzer gun stood beside the monument, but was recalled at the start of WWII. It also bears the names of soldiers who fought and died in this war.