Construction of a new memorial to New Zealand First World War Tunnellers in Waihi. Officially dedicated by the Governor-General on 22 January 2016.
Waihi Heritage Vision (WHV) will construct a New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company (NZETC) Memorial at Gilmour Reserve in Waihi with an official dedication timed to mark the centennial of the Tunnellers’ arrival in France in early March 1916. The New Zealand Tunnelling Company was the first of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force members on the Western Front.
The New Zealand Tunnelling Company Memorial will remember all the men who enlisted in the New Zealand Tunnelling Company from throughout New Zealand, not just the men from the Waihi area.
The NZETC monument rises from a columnar basalt pavement evoking the depths miners delve. The strong vertical aspect established in the pavement becomes a rift and a passage though the suspended globe. The globe is also carried by the horizontal bars of the T.
This T shape, not used as an identifying badge for the single company of New Zealand Tunnellers but used by all other Commonwealth Tunnelling Companies, is well known overseas as the symbol of Tunnelling Companies. The structure is also reminiscent of the shape of a man. It is topped by ‘cupped hands’ invoking supplication and peace, while encompassing the globe.
The globe reflects the large number of Tunnelling Company enlistments with an international background, while also referencing that the Tunnellers were drawn from all parts of New Zealand. The Tunnelling Company officers’ collar badge reflected the New Zealand-wide draw of enlistments with the inscription ‘Inga Wahi Katoa’ or ‘Everywhere’.
The memorial metal is wrought and shaped to form textures reminiscent of the earth and local granite rock formations, while the finish also reflects the industrial heritage of the miners.
Nicholas Brumder, NZETC Memorial designer and fabricator produces the finest quality hand wrought ornamental and sculptural ironwork at his Waihi Metal Studio Ltd. Nick says that he is honoured to be part of New Zealand First World War centenary commemorations, and to ‘memorialise the stoic sacrifice and ingenuity of the New Zealand Tunnellers’.
The Governor General His Excellency Sir Jerry Mataparae will unveil the memorial at a ceremony on Friday 22 January 2016. Follow us on Facebook for further updates on activities taking place around the dedication.