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News Release Monday May 18

Historic answers to housing crisis…

The theme for this year’s Kapiti Memorial Day service may offer an historic solution to Auckland’s current housing shortage…

To find out how Kiwis built accommodation for over 20,000 U.S.Marines in the Wellington region in six weeks, join us at the U.S. Marine’s Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park.

The service, organised by the Kapiti U.S.Marines Trust (KUSMT), runs from 10am (sharp) to 11am on Monday May 25.

Memorial Day, the United States equivalent of ANZAC Day, commemorates nearly half a million U.S. service men and women who lost their lives in World War II and acknowledges the strong bond between Kapiti people and the Marines during this time.

This year, Kapiti Memorial Day will focus on the remarkable effort of thousands, of Kiwi construction workers who helped the war effort by building Marine Camps across New Zealand.

“This is an inspiring story - and the Trust is working to tell it in a more permanent way with a project to restore some of the huts from this period and repatriate them in Queen Elizabeth Park,” say Chair Jenny Rowan.

She says the Trust will work with the Menz Shed in Waikanae to restore a number of huts so future generations can celebrate the hard work and enterprise of their Kiwi and American forebears.”    

When the First Marine Division arrived at Camp Mackay (Whareroa Farm), in mid-June 1942, the men were amazed to find a town ready and waiting for them. It had roads, streets, paths, water supply, power, sewerage, mess facilities and recreation halls – even hospital wards for the sick and a prison for the unruly.

Then Prime Minister, Peter Fraser appointed the dynamic James Fletcher to lead the project telling him he had six weeks to provide housing for 20,000 men in the Wellington area – including the three huge camps in Paekakariki.

Built by 700 men, the three camps: Paekakariki, MacKay (Whareroa Farm) and Russell (Queen Elizabeth Park), housed almost 15,000 men and covered over 2 million square feet - including 2728 buildings, 1,590 huts and 3401 tents. 

Next Monday’s service, organised by the Kapiti U.S.Marines Trust, will be attended by dignitaries from the United States Embassy, the New Zealand Defence Force, the New Zealand Returned Services Association (NZRSA), Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC), the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), representatives of local community groups and members of the public.   

It will include a haka powhiri, performed by Te Roopu Kapa Haka o Paekakariki, and an address from the new U.S. Ambassador Mark Gilbert.

For more information contact:

Allie Webber 021 465 678 or

Anthony Dreaver 04 904 9970

Historic answers to housing crisis…

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