A “New” Hut To Remember The Marines

A highlight for Memorial Day

By Roger Childs

Memorial Day at Queen Elizabeth Park in 2016. The Marines Memorial incorporates six free-standing hut walls which have displays on the Marine camps in the area in 1942-43.  (Photo: Pam Childs)

On Monday May 29, Queen Elizabeth Park will witness the first 2017 Memorial Day commemoration in the world. It will be a special occasion this year, as it is the 75th anniversary of the arrival of US Marines in New Zealand during World War Two.

To add to the celebrations, the Kapiti US Marines Trust (KUSMT), will have on site, a ‘life-size’ replica of one of the huts that the American Marines lived in during 1942-43. The huts were originally for officers only, but as more were built the ranks moved off the “tent decks” they had originally occupied, into huts.

The “new” hut has been constructed by the MenzShed in Waikanae Beach, and will be transported by the New Zealand Transport Agency to a site on the seaward side of the Marines Memorial in the Park.

A cooperative, community effort

The replica hut under construction at MenzShed in Waikanae Beach. (Photo: Anthony Dreaver)

After the Marines left New Zealand for the last time in late 1943, the hundreds of huts were up for sale and were used as sheds, batches and storage units all round the country.

One ended up in Tiromoana Road in Raumati South, and some of the materials from this hut have gone into making the replica.

As far as possible, the new hut follows the specifications of the originals. The KUSMT is very grateful for the superb work carried out by MenzShed carpenters.

For the Trust, Anthony Dreaver has assiduously overseen the project and has appreciated the very friendly cooperation from GWRC Parks staff, and the countless hours of voluntary labour that has been given, notably the MenzShed members as well as KUSMT people.

Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember Americans who have given their lives in time of war. (Photo: Pam Childs)

Bringing the project to fruition

The financing of the hut reconstruction has come from many sources, including the American Embassy and Placemakers, an associate company to Fletchers who actually built the original camps north of Paekakariki in 1942.

The furnished hut will be on site in time for this year’s significant Memorial Day.

The public are cordially invited to the service at the Marines Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park on Monday 29 May.