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 bed­wards@her­ or 09 407 0471.

Jack Kemp and Bill Guthrie are re­search­ing North­land’s places with a World War II con­nec­tion.

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