Northland’s WWII military spots to be recorded
Two Northland volunteer researchers are banding together to undertake a heritage inventory identifying places in Northland associated with World War II.
Jack Kemp of Kerikeri and Dr Bill Guthrie of Doubtless Bay have had a long fascination with the strong military presence that was stationed in Northland during the conflict, and are undertaking an inventory of military camps and other sites before they are lost.
“During the early 1940s there was a proliferation of military camps in Northland associated with the US Marines who were going to be sent to fight in the Pacific,” says Heritage New Zealand’s Northland Manager, Bill Edwards.
“The people associated with these camps have mostly passed on and the collective memory of these camps is disappearing. Evidence of these places is also often quite ephemeral – so it’s important to record them now.”
Jack has been involved at Santo with the proposed WWII museum there, while Bill Guthrie is a former professor at the University of Macau whose Father-in-law was a bomber pilot at Guadalcanal and whose father served in the Medical Corps.
Athough it’s still early days for the project, some of the initial research undertaken by Jack has already paid off.
“We were recently advised of a new subdivision planned for west of Kamo near Whangarei. We cross-checked against information that had already been gathered on the area and it turns out that the subdivision will be built on the site of what was the C1 Marine camp,” he says.
“The story of the Marines in Northland is not particularly well known, so this provides an opportunity to mark the history of the area through street names and possibly interpretation so that people will be able to understand the story of what went on here over 70 years ago, and the enormous impact that had on our history.”
The two volunteers are starting with military camps, though the inventory is likely to expand to include other World War II sites in Northland including airfields, bunkers and gun emplacements.
“The history of the Second World War is relatively recent, though in some ways that makes it all the more vulnerable to loss. We can’t take it for granted, and instead have to be proactive and record as much information as we can about this important part of our heritage,” says Bill.
“This project is timely and important.”
Anybody with any information about military bases in Northland during World War II, or other related information, can contact Bill Edwards on firstname.lastname@example.org or Ph 09-407-0471.