A service will be held to remember the first Returned Servicemen who took up sections in the Mangapurua Soldiers Settlement. A monument, flagpole & location map will be placed at the site.
In 1916 the Mangapurua Soldiers Settlement was advertised for selection to the Returned Servicemen by a grateful government to reward them for their military service during the First World War. The total land offered for settlement was 44,839 acres. The Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka sections were some of the largest offered to the returned servicemen anywhere in the country and was the last large scale back country pioneering development in New Zealand.
Because of the circumstances beyond the control of the settlers it was deemed a complete failure, and the story has unfolded as a classic of good intentions gone wrong. Although the land settlement was called a failure, the bravery, tenacity, and courage shown by the settlers and their families was the foundation on which their descendants now stand.
The Mangapurua Soldiers Settlement became known as “the valley of abandoned dreams”, as the settlers walked off their land, penniless and without reasonable compensation. By 1944 the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka Valleys with their homes, fences and tennis courts lay deserted.
In 2013 an Anzac service was held in the valley to honour these Returned Servicemen and their families. Over 100 people found their way onto the site by foot, cycle, all-terrain vehicles and horseback. It was a very emotional service as descendants spoke of their families and what the valley had meant to them.
Another service is being planned for this Anzac Day 2016, with the erection of a site map and granite memorial, as it is 100 years since the first settlers arrived in the valley. As this site is now on the National Cycleway of New Zealand, the Memorial will be seen by thousands of walkers and cyclists every year. You can see some images of the 2013 service below.