Northland’s war heritage recorded
Two Northland volunteer researchers are banding together to undertake a heritage inventory identifying places in Northland associated with World War II.
Kerikeri’s Jack Kemp and Dr Bill Guthrie of Doubtless Bay have had a long fascination with the strong military presence that was stationed in Northland during the conflict, and are undertaking an inventory of military camps and other sites before they are lost.
‘‘During the early 1940s there was a proliferation of military camps in Northland associated with the US Marines who were going to be sent to fight in the Pacific,’’ Heritage New Zealand’s Northland Manager Bill Edwards says.
‘‘The people associated with these camps have mostly passed on and the collective memory of these camps is disappearing. Evidence of these places is also often quite ephemeral – so it’s important to record them now.’’
Kemp has been involved with the proposed WWII museum at Espiritu Santo, the largest island in Vanuatu, while Guthrie is a former professor at the University of Macau whose father-in-law was a bomber pilot at Guadalcanal and whose father served in the medical corps.
Although it’s still early days for the project, some of the initial research undertaken by Kemp has already paid off.
‘‘We were recently advised of a new subdivision planned for west of Kamo near Whangarei,’’ Kemp says.
‘‘We cross-checked against information that had already been gathered on the area and it turns out that the subdivision will be built on the site of what was the C1 Marine camp,’’ he says.
The two volunteers are starting with military camps, though the inventory is likely to expand to include other World War II sites in Northland including airfields, bunkers and gun emplacements.
‘‘The history of the second world war is relatively recent, though in some ways that makes it all the more vulnerable to loss,’’ Edwards says.
‘‘We can’t take it for granted, and instead have to be proactive and record as much information as we can about this important part of our heritage.’’
❚ Anybody with any information about military bases in Northland during World War II can contact Bill Edwards on email@example.com or 09 407 0471.
Jack Kemp and Bill Guthrie are researching Northland’s places with a World War II connection.