Thursday, 22 August 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Thames Coromandel District Council endorses memorial forests

Thames Coromandel District Council endorses memorial forests

The New Zealand World War 1 Memorial Forests project, which will see 18,166 trees planted at various scenic sites around the Coromandel to honour all NZ soldiers who died in World War I has been officially endorsed by Thames Coromandel District Council today.

TCDC will now act as underwriter for the estimated $452,000 cost of the forest project over the next 10 years with costs to be recouped from grants from external agencies and from sale of the trees to the public.

The project, which is also known as "Te Wao Whakamaumaharatanga" (the Forest of Memories), will commence with initial planting on Anzac Day this year, with a push for more intensive planting with schools and volunteers groups in the autumn months. On average 6,000 trees will need to be planted each year, with the forests completed by Armistice Day 2018.

As each tree will be numbered and plotted on GPS, members of the public will be able to purchase a tree to honour a fallen soldier for $100.

TCDC will be looking for at least 3000 people to purchase a tree in order to meet funding targets, but will welcome as many purchasers as are willing to come forward.

The project will see contractors undertaking initial site preparation such as digging the holes and staking, numbering and plotting GPS coordinates for each site, with volunteers involved in the initial planting and maintenance. Contractors will be working with volunteer groups to look after each tree in the longer-term.

"We have had fantastic feedback so far from all the organisations we have met to discuss the project," says TCDC mayor Glenn Leach. We are working with a variety of agencies including DOC, WRC, Forest and Bird, Kauri 2000 and local RSAs.

"We are also starting to make contact with schools around the district so students can be involved from possibly growing the trees in nurseries, to on-going, long-term maintenance. The meetings we've had so far from the schools we have approached have been extremely positive." 

Final decisions on the site of each battle are yet to be made, but at this stage it is proposed that Gallipoli (2,779 trees) will be honoured on Department of Conservation land above Cathedral Cove, that the Battle of Passchendaele will be remembered at the new Whitianga Cemetery, with the Thames War Memorial honouring the Battle of Messines Ridge (1,300 trees) as well as a separate site on the entrance to Thames to specifically remember the war dead from the town. Other sites will be the Pauanui-Hikuai Tangitarori Lane walkway which will honour the Palestine campaign and the Battle of Le Quesnoy at Whangamata. Other sites are still under investigation for the remaining battles to be commemorated.

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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.