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An Armistice Day gathering at Tunnellers Memorial in Gilmour Park, Waihī. Photo: SUPPLIED

Waihī pauses to remember

An Armistice Day gathering was held on November 11 at the Tunnellers Memorial in Gilmour Park, Waihī.
Waihī Heritage Vision members and descendants of World War I tunnellers Pete and Vicki Beveridge welcomed 21 descendants of tunnellers to the commemoration.
“Armistice day in New Zealand is not as well attended as it is in Europe,” Waihī Heritage Vision spokesperson Krishna Buckman said. “However, in Waihī at our Tunnellers Memorial in Gilmour Park, we have been commemorating Armistice Day since the dedication of the memorial in 2016.”
People made the effort to attend, coming from Taranaki, Auckland and even Gore, she said.
The laying of the wreaths was presented by four descendants from the Cook Islands Maumahara Māori Pioneer Battalion, The Forgotten 43, who also shared a recital of The Ode in their Cook Island language. Joh, Moe, Tia and Ben of the Cook Islands also shared stories of their family members who served with the Māori Battalion.
“We also welcomed representatives from the Sappers Association to our ceremony,” Krishna said.
“We heard stories from Ernie MacManus, from Otago, son of John (Jack) MacManus, who told us of his father’s experiences in the tunnels, along with letters read by niece Diane Cooper.”
Krishna said Taranaki woman Barbara Dargan was gathering stories of her grandfather’s experiences as a tunneller for a book she was writing.
“All the descendants’ stories were similar in that the father or grandfather who returned home didn’t talk about their experience in the war, instead choosing to bury their experiences,” Krishna said.
“Some also spoke of mental and physical repercussions.”
Guests were invited to continue catching up over lunch at the Waihī Memorial RSA after the ceremony had wrapped up.