Erected in the grounds of the Awapuni Race Course the Medical Memorial is dedicated to men of the New Zealand Medical Corps who gave their lives in the Great War. They assembled and trained at the Awapuni Race Course prior to dispersing overseas to Egypt, Palestine, Salonika, France, Belgium and England as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.
Little is known about the history of the Memorial. Earliest details relate to it's design, and are recorded in the New Zealand Herald and the Auckland Star in August 1928. Both articles describe the erection of a Medical Corps War Memorial at the race course by the Manawatu Racing Club with detail limited to identifying it as being in the form of a large concrete tank, in the shape of a Red Cross with a cairn built in the centre.
More of the design features became evident in an Evening Post article in January 1929. It was to be a lakelet, with each arm of the cross being 60 feet long, 20 feet wide, 5 feet deep and capable of holding 60,000 gallons of water. The cairn was to be set at an angle, with the dimensions described as 15 feet high, about 10 feet square at the bottom, receding in tiers to a 12 inch square point. Water was to be an important feature incorporated as a gentle-running waterfall from the top of the cairn to symbolise the purpose and spirit of the Memorial being the gentle weeping of Mother Earth who gave those men birth and to whom they had returned.
Little is documented about the construction phase. The next significant event in the documented historical record was the Memorial unveiling.
The Memorial was unveiled 3 December 1929 by the Governor General Sir Charles Fergusson. A significant crowd gathered, including many ex Medical Corps personnel from across New Zealand. Among them, Sergeant William David McWilliams of 1st and 2nd Field Ambulance documented the proceedings for inclusion in his personal photo album. The photographs shown here are courtesy of the New Zealand National Army Museum who is the custodian of Sergeant McWilliams' album.
To download a history of the Awapuni Medical Memorial please click here.
The Awapuni RNZAMC Memorial Centenary Project Team wishes to thank a number of organisations for their on-going support:
- Central Energy Trust
- Lion Foundation
- Linton Executive Council
- Veterans Affairs New Zealand
- Eastern and Central Community Trust
- Higgins Construction
- Studio Pacific Architecture
- Acrow Scaffolding
- The Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps
- New Zealand Defence Force
- Palmerston North City Council
- RACE Inc.
- RNZAMC Fund
- Historic Places Manawatu-Horowhenua
- Manawatu Museum Services Ltd - Detlef Klein
- WW1 Lotteries Grants Board