Friday, 07 August 2020

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Memorial Forest plantings on ANZAC Day

Memorial Forest plantings on ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day will see the first trees planted in Thames Coromandel District Council's World War I Memorial Forest.

Two signature native trees are to be planted at three sites around the Coromandel as part of ANZAC Day commemorations on 25 April.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings, when New Zealand troops fought their first major campaign of World War One.

In all, 18,166 New Zealanders died in the war. By the 100th anniversary of the war's end in 2018, that number of trees will have been planted at 10 sites across the Coromandel.

The trees will be planted in forests that represent major battles and campaigns that New Zealand forces took part in.

"The New Zealand World War I Memorial Forest is a fitting and long-lasting tribute to the New Zealand men and women who fought and died in the service of their country a century ago," says TCDC Economic Development Programme Manager Ben Dunbar-Smith.

Mr Dunbar-Smith has been overseeing this complex project that also involves significant contributions from RSAs, community groups, schools, Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation.

The 10 forest sites will also form a growing tourism attraction, with trees available for purchase and each tree GPS-located.

"The tourism benefits of the memorial forest are considerable and in the early stages of planting there will be spin-off effects from the local goods and services related to the project," says Mr Dunbar-Smith.

After discussions with RSAs and local communities, it was decided to keep the plantings on ANZAC Day low key so as not to detract from the day's traditional remembrance ceremonies.

The three sites where planting will take place on ANZAC Day are the new cemetery at Mercury Bay, Tairua's RSA cemetery and in Whangamata on the Council reserve near Durrant Drive.

At the new Mercury Bay cemetery 35 trees will be blessed on ANZAC Day. Two of these will be planted and the others taken away to be planted after 5 June when the weather conditions for planting are better.

After the trees are blessed and planted, a New Zealand World War One Memorial Forest sign will be unveiled that honours those from Mercury Bay who gave their lives in the war.

The cemetery forest site also remembers the Battle of Passchendaele, where eventually more than 2,000 trees will be planted.

At Tairua's RSA cemetery two signature trees are to be planted on ANZAC Day after the dawn service.

A New Zealand World War One Memorial Forest sign honouring those from Tairua-Hikuai who served and died in the war will be unveiled at the same time.

A further 46 trees will be planted over the winter months, when conditions are best for tree planting.

Also on ANZAC Day, two signature trees are due to be planted at a Council reserve at the northern entrance to Whangamata near Durrant Drive.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.