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.

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