Statue marks 100 years since WWI
The man behind a lone soldier statue to be unveiled on New Plymouth’s coast next year hopes its presence will make people think more about World War I.
Accomplished New Plymouth sculptor, and former surgeon, Fridtjof Hanson, is in the middle of modelling the life-size bronze trooper who will be wearing the Taranaki Regimental uniform.
The New Plymouth Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) commissioned the statue, which was part funded by a New Plymouth District Council community services and programmes grant of $15,000.
It will take up a permanent post near the Italian made Pack Howitzer across from the Cenotaph on Regina Pl in New Plymouth and be unveiled on November 11, 2018 at 11am - 100 years to the exact time the war came to an end.
‘‘I want this chap to look pensive – to be more than just a soldier,’’ Hanson said. ’’I really believe people should think more about the First World War.
‘‘The war was an unusually traumatic episode and 100 years on we’re still talking about sending young men and women into conflict, so I want to show that we really should think more deeply about it.’’
Hanson, 76, has deliberately made him look young and deep in thought as he stands with arms reversed (rifle pointed down), gazing across the Tasman to our Anzac neighbour. His post will overlook the site of the former New Plymouth railway station where many young men and women departed Taranaki for foreign battlefields.
Hanson, who was behind the region’s Peter Snell, Frederic Carrington and Lieutenant Colonel William Malone statues, said the soldier would be mounted close to ground level so people could see his features close up..
New Plymouth RSA president Graeme Lowe said the statue and commemoration would salute the whole of the Taranaki region.
‘‘We’re hoping to have bells ringing and a parade to mark the centenary of the Armistice at 11am on 11 November, with RSAs and people from around the region attending,’’ Lowe said.
Bryan Benton, who chaired the New Plymouth RSA committee on the statue, said the location was ideal because it embodied the Anzac bond.
‘‘A soldier of that period in the Taranaki Regimental uniform with arms reversed is perfect for that site and that occasion.
Fridtjof Hanson works away on his latest sculpture.