Commemorating the march that 60,000 of New Zealand's First World War troops made over the Rimutakas from Featherston Camp to Upper Hutt with a re-enactment march and a memorial.
A team of volunteers with special skills has gathered to organise a re-enactment of the crossing of the Rimutaka Hill that was made by 60,000 First World War troops who trained at Featherston Camp. This number was 58% of all troops that left New Zealand to fight. The event is scheduled for 27th September 2015, the marks the 100th anniversary of the first march.
We as a group recognise the historic significance of this event, both regionally and nationally, and are driven to acknowledge its relevance and educate this and future generations in an appropriate way.
The group has enlisted the support of all of the local Councils (including the Upper Hutt City Council). The South Wairarapa District Council has agreed to be our overarching organisation for this venture and is supporting the group with administrative and financial requirements needed when applying to Trusts for grants.
The project has two distinct components the March and the Memorial.
The march will depart from Featherston Camp at 3.00am to re-enact the march as near as possible to the actual events and all participants will need to be physically capable of the 21 kilometre march over the Rimutaka Hill Road. Total numbers will be limited to 250 due to the restricted room available at the summit.
Relatives of past soldiers who marched will have first preference; however numbers per family may need to be limited. Other marchers will be welcomed if there is available space.
A wreath will be laid at the Cenotaph at Featherston on the way to the summit.
Once the marchers reach the hilltop there will be a dedication, blessing and unveiling of the memorial with invited guests. Busses will transport the dignitaries to and from this event.
After refreshments and the dedication the march will then continue to Kaitoki where they will be transported by bus to Upper Hutt.
The participants will then reform to march through Upper Hutt City and lay a second wreath at the Upper Hutt war memorial. Buses will then transport the walkers to the Trentham Camp and they will march onto the camp. With the support of the NZ Defence Force we are celebrating the marches conclusion with military equipment display, re-enactment demonstrations, food stalls, and activities for children at the camp that the general public are invited.
There will be portable toilets at strategic points and we will be accompanied by St John first aid. All marchers will be bussed back from Trentham Camp to Featherston at the events completion. There is no cost to any of those involved whom participate.
Memorial Remembrance Structure
The Remembrance Structure will be on South Wairarapa District Council land near the summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road.
We have chosen local artist and sculptor Niko Thomsen to complete this work and it will primarily be made of stone and steel.
The memorial base will be made of stones. Local stone mason Mike Dunn has agreed to do the stone work free of charge and a local trucking company Higgins has agreed to transport the stones and fixing materials to the summit also free of charge.
The structure will be 4.5 meters wide, 2 meters high on one side and 2.5 meters high on the other side and be a thickness of approximately 500mm.
Niko will construct metal figures that will represent those that marched and will include not only soldiers but an ambulance, horses and Patriotic Society women serving tea. Each figure will be approximately 500mm high they will be placed on top the stone works.
The figures will be two dimensional silhouettes cut out of steel plate 40mm thick and will be rounded to make them more personal. The title 'Rimutaka Crossing 1915-1919' will be cut as individual letters from steel and attached to the stone.
The main body of the stone will have a poppy and a silver fern, one on either side fixed, and either end of the stone work will have further panels that will feature the R.S.A Ode and an information panel that will include a Q.R code that can be accessed with a smart phone that will link directly to the Wairarapa Archives so that members of the public can trace their families’ history in the Wairarapa and Wellington regions.