Memorial Day Service Moves Indoors

The weather sends commemorations under cover

By Roger Childs

The new Ramaroa Centre (Credit: scoop)

The first blast of winter weather with squally showers and sub 10 C temperatures led to a rapid change of venue for this year’s US Memorial Day Service.

It would not have been possible last year, however the new Ramaroa Centre was able to accommodate the many people who had wrapped up warmly to attend.

The Kapiti US Marines Trust (KUSMT), did extraordinarily well to organise the change of setting from the nearby Marines Memorial.

Probably the only element that could not be carried out indoors was the lowering and raising of flags.

Keeping the memories alive

Back in 2012 on the 70th anniversary of the Marines arriving in Paekakariki, the Kapiti US Marines Trust  (KUSMT), decided to have major commemorations spread over 10 days.

This was a great success and the tradition has continued, with the following events held at the end of May every year:

  • In the Footsteps of the Marines: a walk/run based on a route march described by Leon Uris
  • A Memorial Day Service in Queen Elizabeth Park.

A day to remember the fallen

All over the United States and in many parts of the world, people gather to remember Americans who died in the service of their country.  New Zealand US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Susan Niblock, in her address today referred to her experience of attending services in the Philippines where she grew up.

Here in Queen Elizabeth Park the large crowd met at one of the world’s first services for 2018, to honour the more than 15,000 Marines who lived in three camps north of Paekakariki in 1942-43.

In keeping with the important occasion, the service included contributions from people of all ages:


The one tradition not possible in the Ramaroa Centre!
  • A reading from Joan Ellis who danced with Marines in the early 1940s
  • Recollections from a survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941
  • Paekakariki School children performing a haka waiata
  • the laying of several wreaths, including one by the memorial for the sailors who drowned off Whareroa Beach
  • senior students from the three Kapiti District colleges telling the poignant story of the June 10 1943 landing craft tragedy which took the lives of 10 sailors. They also read out their names.
  • speeches by KUSMT Chairperson, Richard Benge and US Embasssy Chargé d’Affaires, Susan Niblock

The Rev Lyall Perris did a superb job in smoothly conducting the service which, as well as readings and speeches, included a rich blend of music.

This featured the Kapiti Brass, the bugle playing of “Taps”, a waiata from Paekakariki School students and passionate renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner and God of Nations by college singers.

All who attended enjoyed the service, in which a range of people contributed to a rich and colourful mix of formality and friendship, music and memories, commemoration and dedication.



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