Camp Paekākāriki interpretation site
Camp Paekākāriki remembered – 80 years on…
Eighty years after the encampment of US Armed forces in New Zealand (1942-44), World War II memories will be rekindled at the opening of a new Camp Paekākāriki interpretation site at the southern entrance to of Queen Elizabeth Park.
This outdoor story-telling gallery and palisade will be opened at 2pm on Sunday November 13, 2022. It has been a major project of the Kāpiti US Marines Trust (KUSMT) and completes a series of public projects the Trust has undertaken over the past ten years to share stories of the three Marine’s Camps (Russell, Mackay and Paekākāriki) and bring them to life.
Camp Paekākāriki focuses on the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions who occupied the camp during the war and their relationships with the locals. The structure includes a 10-metre-long palisade made of 34 corten steel fins supporting seven interpretation panels, each 1.3 meters high.
Some of the photographs used are from the never-seen-before ‘Norm Hatch Collection’, recently acquired by the Trust and local film maker, Steve La Hood, from two American archives and deposited into Nga Taonga Sound and Vision.
Kapiti US Marines Trust Chair, Richard Benge says the completion of Camp Paekākāriki will ‘enable local, regional and international visitors to visit Kāpiti and take a comprehensive tour around all three former camp sites and understand how the Marines lived, trained and engaged with the locals.’ Camp Paekākāriki has been made possible by generous grants from the Embassy of the United States of America in Wellington and the Paekākāriki Services Trust.
The Trust acknowledges Ngati Haumia Ki Paekākāriki as mana whenua and is grateful to have the opportunity to build the Camp Paekākāriki story-telling gallery on land formerly belonging to Miriona Utu Budge. Mrs Budge, was passionate about keeping her 16-acre block of family land and had it taken from her under the Public Works Act, after the war - for inclusion into what is now Queen Elizabeth Park.
While Camp Paekākāriki pays tribute to Ngati Haumia and Mrs Budge’s daughter, Jean Andrews, it does not attempt to tell the story of her disenfranchisement from the land. “This will be an important task for people going forward to complete,’ says KUSMT Chair, Richard Benge.
The project has been managed by KUSMT historian, Anthony Dreaver with professional assistance from: Pukerua Bay graphic designer, Anne Johnston; Riverbank Engineering (Otaki), Baseline Consulting Engineers (Levin) the Greater Wellington Regional Council and the DAC sign writing group in Porirua.
The Trust is indebted to Anthony Dreaver for research, writing and photographic selection and it pays tribute to former KUSMT trustee and Paekākāriki resident, John Porter for inspiring the project.
The public are invited to the formal opening of the memorial. The event has already been postponed twice and will proceed rain or shine.
Enter site via the Southern Entrance of Queen Elizabeth Park via Wellington Road Paekākāriki.
Parking available in the park opposite the site
2pm. Sunday November 13, 2022
Allison (Allie) Webber – M.021 465 678
Photos and interviews available on request