News, Events and Culture

Awapuni Medical Memorial rededication

Friday December 2 2016

Water now freely cascades down the marble cairn in the centre of the recently rededicated Awapuni Medical Memorial.

Photo shows the Awapuni Medical Memorial - a stone water feature in the racecourse.

The recently restored and rededicated memorial at the racecourse.

The running water expresses the whole purpose and spirit of the memorial – the gentle weeping of Mother Earth who gave men birth and to whom they had returned.

The Manawatū Racing Club erected the memorial as a place of special significance and to honour the sacrifice made by New Zealand Medical Corps personnel during World War 1. It was officially dedicated in 1929 by Governor General Sir Charles Fergusson. Awapuni Racecourse was home to one of New Zealand’s largest World War 1 training camps and it was the sole training centre for the New Zealand Medical Corps (NZMC) before they dispersed overseas as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

Over time the condition of the memorial seriously declined. The centenary of World War 1 was the catalyst for establishing the Awapuni Medical Memorial Centenary project committee in 2014. The Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps led the restoration project, with the assistance of community partners including Palmerston North City Council and members of the city's heritage team.

Now the memorial is a focal point again, and will be accessible for all people to gather in remembrance or reflection.

The project was an opportunity to renew the pledge to never forget. This pledge also guided the project objectives of preserving the original design features, its use as an irrigation reservoir and water fountain, while improving the aesthetics, accessibility and its significance. After a research and design phase and extensive site clearance intensive restoration of the site took place. A fundraising effort was also launched along with an awareness campaign. A formal rededication of the memorial was held on 20 October.

Linton Army Camp remains the primary training location for NZ Army medical personnel who are regularly deployed overseas.