The area known to local iwi as Paetumokai in the Wairarapa first sprouted a settler’s homestead in around 1847 and was originally known as Burlings. Five decades later the burgeoning township of Featherston had around 700 inhabitants.
A watershed moment in the town’s history came with the establishment of the military camp nearby in 1916. The effect that the Camp had on the town was indelible. The population of the area ballooned fivefold and much of the industry in the township and its civic life revolved around its relationship with the Camp.
Today, Featherston is twinned with the small town of Messines in Belgium, site of a significant battle during World War I where many of the recruits who trained at Featherston fought and perished.
You might have had a grandparent who trained or worked at the Camp, or belonged to a family that was associated with Featherston during that era. We’re rounding up as many personal stories from those days as we can. If you are descended from someone, we’d really appreciate it if you’d drop us a line!
Collage of archive images of the Camp (Courtesy of Wairarapa Archives)
When the original idea was first floated, a handful of local history enthusiasts took up the challenge; however, the number of supporters has swelled such that it would be no exaggeration to claim that the whole community has moved in behind the project. Recently, a number of local, regional and national organisations have come to the party too.
There’s still plenty to do to make the project a reality including working with the community to decide the finer detail on the reverse of the columns that will feature personal stories, journals, diary entries, postcards, photos and other historical artefacts. Could you help? Get in touch!
It is especially important, as our country marks the centenary of the First World War, that we appropriately remember Featherston Military Camp and all who passed through it between 1916 and 1919.Former Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage
It remains an important national historic site, and an appropriate memorial in Featherston to the place and the men, would remind us of the camp and Featherston’s link.Co-convenor WW100 Wairarapa
Your proposal has great significance to Featherston as the Camp was the hub, home and training ground from many thousands of soldiers destined for the battles on the Western Front.President of the Featherston RSA
Featherston Military Camp is certainly a place of national and international importance – as well as a place of special significance in the South Wairarapa.Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage
This is an important project fully deserving of support as part of New Zealand’s commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.Massey University
We are confident that a fitting and stunning public design work will complement the new site, signal clearly Featherston’s connections with its military heritage and further lift South Wairarapa’s profile of art, culture and history.Regional co-ordinator
Paul Dibble is an internationally recognised sculptor. We feel that a work of this calibre would add significantly to the redevelopment of Featherston’s civic square.Manager, Gow Langsford Gallery
The training camp is not just of regional and national significance – but of international significance as well!Featherston Heritage Complex Society
We offer you our unqualified support in your endeavours to promote a memorial to the Military Camp which was based in Featherston from 1916 onwards.ANZAC Club Society
SWDC believe the proposed sculpture will be a huge draw card for Featherston. Not only will it be a poignant reminder of the town’s history but it will serve as a key focal point in the town square. We fully support the project and urge everyone to help make this dream a reality.Mayor, South Wairarapa District
Nigel Allardyce, Noeline Arnott, Anne Atkinson, C Batista, Bella Villa Bed & Breakfast, Lee Carter, Frank Cody, Brendan Coneglan, Anna Coneglan, Anne Conroy, The Coory Family, Bruce Craig, Joan Dickens, Penelope Dunkley, Julie Elstone, Maggie Flynn, Gus Evans, David Flynn-Coutts, D S Forbes, Dayle Harwood, John Hodder, C J Holley & C K Miller, Sarah Hutchings, Anne Hynds & Derek McCluskie, John Jamieson, T & M E Jane, C Levien, Susan McDonald, Joy McDowall, Diane MacKenzie, Ken Mckenzie, Messines Books, Enid Meyer, Marshall Owens, Ken & Maria Pasco, Jennifer Reichenbach-Sisk, Kate Ricketts, Yvonne Riddiford, Erica Tenquist, Jo White, Debra Whitehouse
…as well as our many anonymous donors!