Feather­ston’s his­tory brought to the screen


A new doc­u­men­tary on what life was like for sol­diers train­ing for duty in World War I at­tempts to fill a void on the sub­ject, its cre­ators say.

The doc­u­men­tary, ti­tled March On, de­tails the cre­ation of Feather­ston Mil­i­tary Camp and what day to day life was like for men and women sta­tioned there, and cov­ers the ma­jor events that oc­curred at the camp.

Doc­u­men­tar­ian Al­lan Honey said one of the things that spurred his in­ter­est was an ex­hibit at Ara­toi Mu­seum that had a lot of pho­tog­ra­phy and mem­o­ra­bilia of the camp, but lit­tle in­sight into what hap­pened there.

Honey said he and co-creator Neil Frances have tried to add a story to what was such a for­ma­tive part of Wairarapa’s his­tory, with a leg-up from Sir Peter Jack­son.

‘‘It was lucky I had a con­tact who was close to Sir Peter Jack­son through my years work­ing in tele­vi­sion.

‘‘They were able to tell him about what we were do­ing and he was happy to help with the footage we needed for the docu- men­tary and also with the short film we played after­ward.’’

The lo­cally pro­duced fea­ture would not have been pos­si­ble with­out Wairarapa Archive, Honey said.

‘‘Neil was a bit of a nat­u­ral in front of the cam­era which was great. It would be nice to make more films on lo­cal his­to­ries, be­cause there are more there.

‘‘Things like the Rimu­taka Tun­nel, Fell En­gine and the Pol­ish refugees who had so much to do with Wairarapa his­tory are re­ally in­ter­est­ing sub­jects.’’

Fol­low­ing the doc­u­men­tary’s premier screen­ing at Master­ton’s Re­gent 3, Lieu­tenant Colonel Martin Drans­field of the New Zealand De­fence Force said the film­mak­ers had cap­tured the spirit of the sol­diers and noted they were very sim­i­lar to young sol­diers to­day.

Drans­field said some of the scenes were re­ally thought­ful and pro­vided a unique glimpse into the hopes and dreams of the young men and women sta­tioned at the camp.

‘‘While there was a light­hearted el­e­ment it also showed very well the se­ri­ous side of what WWI meant and how it af­fected New Zealand and Wairarapa.

‘‘It is a valu­able piece of his­tory that helps us re­mem­ber the sons and daugh­ters who bravely did their duty.’’


Viv Napier, Neil Frances, Lieu­tenant Colonel Martin Drans­field and Al­lan Honey

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