Marines' Exhibition paves the way for heritage development in Paekakariki
The opening of the Station Trust's new exhibition on the U.S.Marines, and their encampment in Paekakariki between 1942 and 1944, is a major milestone for the village, says Mayor Jenny Rowan.
A Friend In Need: the Paekakariki Story is the culmination of several years, planning, research and hard work from both the Station Trust and the newly-formed Kapiti U.S.Marines Trust. Both organisations have been assisted by a generous grant from the U.S. Embassy.
Jenny Rowan says the exhibition paves the way for Kapiti to tell one of its biggest history stories, improve its Marines collection, and invite others both in New Zealand and the United States to be involved.
"Next year is the 70th anniversary of the Marines in Kapiti, so the exhibition will be an important part of the activities planned to mark this important occasion. The next big thing will be the roll-out of the Signage Project, which tells the story of Paekakariki, its tangata whenua, rail, Marines and community history."
She said Council Historian Ron Prockter had already uncovered original maps of the three camps sites, so in some cases, particularly in Paekakariki, residents could accurately research the Marines history around their homes and gardens.
The A Friend In Need exhibition, started its life at Old St Paul's Cathedral in Wellington, and was re-invented for subsequent shows, at the New Zealand Army Museum in Waiouru, and the Museum of City & Sea in Wellington. The Trust has negotiated a two-year loan of the show, with the right to adapt it for a Kapiti audience.
This is the first really big single theme show at the Station Museum. Thanks to Anthony Dreaver and his fantastic team of volunteers, we now have an opportunity to delve into this fascinating slice of our history.
Between them our three camps housed almost 15,000 men; 5200 in Camp Paekakariki (the site of the Paekakariki Holiday Park), 4850 at Camp Russell (Queen Elizabeth Park) and 4650 at Camp MacKay (Whareroa Farm.) Another 7982 men were stationed in neighbouring camps in Judgeford, Pauatahanui, Titahi Bay, Paremata and Plimmerton.
The camps were built in a record six weeks and required a huge programme of public works that required water and drainage facilities to be installed, cooking and sleeping facilities to be built, as well as roading and parking.
The exhibition will be officially opened at 4.30pm on Saturday March 19.