Poppy field finds new home

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RICHARD MAYS

A hand­made ‘‘ poppy field’’ cre­ated by Palmer­ston North peo­ple as the city’s Com­mu­nity Arts con­tri­bu­tion to last year’s Anzac cen­ten­nial has found a per­ma­nent home.

On Satur­day the 5 me­tre by 1.2 me­tre field, with its more than 1200 hand­made knit­ted and felted pop­pies, was handed over to Dick Tred­well and Steve Thom­son of the Tinui Par­ish Anzac Trust to hang in the Tinui War Memo­rial Hall.

Tinui is the Wairarapa farm­ing set­tle­ment where pos­si­bly the world’s first for­mal Anzac Day ser­vice was held on April 25, 1916.

In 1914 there were more than a thou­sand sin­gle men liv­ing in the Tinui area. Many of them vol­un­teered, and many died.

‘‘I don’t think the av­er­age per­son re­alises the ex­tent of how that war rav­aged the ranks of our young men,’’ Thom­son said.

In 1916, the Rev­erend Basil Ashcroft held the Anzac cer­e­mony, and he and his parish­ioners erected a cross on the hill over­look­ing Tinui.

Thom­son said the pri­est then im­me­di­ately re­signed from the par­ish and went to serve on the Western Front with the next ech­e­lon of re­in­force­ments as a chap­lain. He re­turned to re­sume his du­ties at Tinui in 1919.

Ashcroft’s great grand­son is a colonel in the New Zea- land De­fence Force, and spoke at Tinui’s 100th Anzac com­mem­o­ra­tion.

Tred­well said that Tinui’s Anzac tra­di­tion had be­come a gal­vanis­ing in­flu­ence in the small com­mu­nity, and they were pleased to of­fer the poppy field a home.

Com­mu­nity Arts’ Carol Leckie said the field, dis­played in the Square Edge gallery last year, was originally in­tended for the Waiouru Army Mu­seum.

How­ever, as the mu­seum was in­un­dated with pop­pies and the lo­cal RSA had nowhere for it to hang, the Tinui Trust was ap­proached, and ac­cepted cus­to­di­an­ship of the hand­crafted work.

‘‘We weren’t pre­scrip­tive about our pop­pies, so they came in a lot of dif­fer­ent sizes and shapes with all sorts of in­di­vid­ual em­bel­lish­ments,’’ Leckie said.

As well as com­mem­o­rat­ing the lo­cal men who died dur­ing the Great War, the hall con­tains mem­o­ra­bilia from the con­flict and from the orig­i­nal Anzac Day ser­vice.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple con­trib­uted to the poppy field, and they’d be in­ter­ested to know where it ended up,’’ Leckie said.

PHOTO: RICHARD MAYS/FAIR­FAX NZ

Steve Thom­son and Dick Tred­well from the Wairarapa farm­ing com­mu­nity of Tinui ac­cept­ing the Anzac poppy field cre­ated in Palmer­ston North.

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