Un­known sol­diers’ pho­tos dis­cov­ered


‘‘It is only as­sumed that they are from the Roll of Hon­our.’’

When Glenn Hansen went look­ing for spa­ces at the Kaponga War Me­mo­rial Hall he found more than he bar­gained for - he found a for­got­ten piece of his­tory.

Hansen, the com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment ad­vi­sor for the South Taranaki Dis­trict Coun­cil, dis­cov­ered an old frame with 20 pho­to­graphs of sol­diers scat­tered around in­side it.

‘‘It was in a very ne­glected state but con­tained pho­to­graphs of sol­diers from World War I,’’ he said. ’’There are no leg­i­ble names on the pho­tos and it is only as­sumed that they are from the Roll of Hon­our on the Vic­to­ria Park en­trance.’’

The WWI Roll of Hon­our has around 30 names on it and de­spite the fact it is only an as­sump­tion that the two are linked, th­ese mys­tery men have been dubbed the ‘Kaponga Mil­i­tary Heroes’.

Hansen found the frame in the old, cob­web-filled cin­ema room be­hind the hall in April and no one knows how long the it had been there.

He con­tacted Aotea Utan­ganui Mu­seum of South Taranaki dis­trict ar­chiv­ist Cameron Curd and asked what to do next.

‘‘I said ‘look I’ve found th­ese re­ally cool pho­to­graphs, is there a way we could en­hance th­ese and I could give them back to the com­mu­nity?’’’ Hansen said.

Over the months that fol­lowed Curd en­hanced the pho­to­graphs, put the orig­i­nals into the ar­chives, and cre­ated a poster to fit the frame. Hansen cleaned up the orig­i­nal frame as best he could be­fore pre­sent­ing the fi­nal prod­uct to the Kaponga RSA.

Alis­tair Ab­bott, the pres­i­dent of the Kaponga RSA, said he and the mem­bers were pleas­antly sur­prised by the part of his­tory.

Ab­bott has a vague mem­ory of the frame and its contents, but has no idea where he had seen it that is the next mys­tery.

Hansen said when he cleaned up the frame there were about four dif­fer­ent colours of paint splat­tered on the frame in­di­cat­ing it was once on a wall some­where and been painted around, or moved around of­ten.

The mys­tery of the frame and the iden­ti­ties of the men has led lo­cals to reach out but it will be dif­fi­cult.

How­ever, Ab­bott ex­pressed his con­cern that his grand­fa­ther was too young to go to WWI, and he died decades ago - how would they ever iden­tify th­ese men?

Hansen said this was the next project, and he hoped they could one day redo the poster and have names of the heroes at­tached.

Alis­tair Ab­bott, the Kaponga RSA pres­i­dent, is con­cerned about find­ing out the iden­ti­ties of the mys­tery men. Glenn Hansen

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