A memorial 67 years in the making

A memorial 67 years in the making

The installation of a war memorial in St Alban’s Anglican Church Pauatahanui was halted in 1951, due to the inclusion of “two or three Catholic names.”  Sixty-seven years later, the WWII Honours Board has finally been installed in the church.

In 1950 the people at St Alban’s Pauatahanui agreed to erect an honours board in memory of the 23 men from their district who served from 1939 to 1949, to complement the existing board honouring those who served in the First World War.  Mr A.E. Shank of Plimmerton designed the board to be constructed of heart rimu and a faculty was issued by the Bishop.  However, in 1951 a new vicar was appointed and the vestry minutes noted “the board would not be placed in the church.”  Mr Shank was obviously disappointed, for when he heard that yet another vicar had been appointed in 1953 he wrote to him with the explanation, “work was stopped owing to two or three Catholic names which [the previous vicar] objected to.”

Sixty years on and Margaret Blair, Archivist for the Parish of Pauatahanui, found the original honours board design and letter from Mr Shank when she was sorting the parish archives and she deposited these with the Alexander Turnbull Library.  At the ANZAC service in 2013 she reflected that it was sad that the names of the 23 men were not there in the church. The vicar, the late Rev Danny Te Hiko, agreed it was worth completing the project.  Diocesan records showed the faculty was still in place, and David Kirkland, a skilled craftsman cabinet maker, agreed to make the elaborate board.  Steve Brattle hand painted the names.  The project was funded by donations from families of the men whose names are on the board, the Pauatahanui Residents’ Association, the Porirua RSA and more importantly, St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Plimmerton.  The board was dedicated on St George’s Day, the 23rd of April, 2017 by Rev Brendan Drew, Chaplain, Trentham Military Camp.

Margaret reflects: “We’ve come a long way since 1951: we walk with the people of St Theresa’s on Good Friday, we worship together, we sing together and pray together through the prayer quilts we have made for two St Theresa’s parish priests.”  It is exciting to see such long-term commitment to the building of faith relationships in the communities of our Diocese.