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Trail marks Auckland’s wartime contribution

Trail marks Auckland’s wartime contribution

Auckland’s First World War Heritage Trail launches today, offering Aucklanders the opportunity to learn about their region’s contribution to the First World War and remember those that were affected at home and abroad.

The trail brings to light places across the Auckland region that have a special connection to the Great War. Many are obvious and take pride of place in town centres or are reflected in the names of buildings, parks and even local streets. Others have changed considerably or have disappeared altogether.

Mayor Len Brown says the trail is one of Auckland Council’s lead projects for the First World War commemoration period, which began this year, and runs until 2019.

“The Heritage Trail is a fantastic way for Aucklanders to re-connect with this period of our past, but also to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might live in a more peaceful, just and hopeful world. One in ten Kiwis served overseas and almost every family knew loss – that was a huge sacrifice for such a young nation.

“I urge everyone to take an interest in the trail sites in their local community, explore their family connections with the First World War period and join with us to remember the impact it had,” he says.

Sandra Coney, chair of Auckland Council’s First World War Political Steering Group, says the trail offers a sample of the many sites across the region and particularly focuses on the home front.

“As well as telling stories of some of the memorials, monuments and honour rolls erected in remembrance of those that served, this trail highlights the places that became part of the war effort or were affected by it.

“Community halls and transport hubs became farewell points for families and communities seeing their men off to war; camps were established for training, administration and even internment purposes; public places were used for fundraising efforts; convalescent homes were established to care for returning soldiers and businesses were greatly affected or even re-purposed following the impact of war,” she says.

Research for this project has involved delving into council’s archives, including Sir George Grey Special Collections, and working with Auckland Libraries, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, other government departments, landowners, local historians, museums and heritage groups. Fifty six sites were chosen to represent Auckland’s contribution and cover a range of wartime themes.

Signs have been installed at most locations and a brochure has been produced to guide people and inspire them to learn more about their local history. People can also download the ‘STQRY’ smartphone app and, using QR codes along the trail, access further information about each site.

The trail, which stretches from Wellsford to Waiuku, is not intended to be followed sequentially or as a walking trail. It will be in place for the duration of the five-year First World War commemoration period and includes sites on both public and private land.

Additional council centenary projects will be revealed during the upcoming Heritage Festival, allowing people to explore more stories about people from their communities who were involved in the war.


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