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Grants a major boost to World War I Commemorations

31 October 2013

Hamilton’s planned World War I centenary commemorations have received a significant financial boost this week with grants for two major projects confirmed.

Hamilton City Council’s Waikato Museum and Parks and Open Spaces Unit applied to the Lottery Grants Board’s Environment and Heritage Fund for assistance in developing two World War I centenary commemorative projects.  


  • The Waikato Museum project will see development of a special exhibition – For us They Fell - scheduled to open in April 2015.
  • The Parks and Open Spaces unit plans to develop a Memorial Garden in Memorial Park, reflecting Hamilton’s involvement in World War I and its ongoing relationship with the Belgian city of Ypres.

The Memorial Garden project has been granted $200,000 (excluding GST), while the Waikato Museum project has gained $506,233 (excluding GST) in funding.  

Mayor Julie Hardaker says the grants reflect the quality of the applications and the work which had gone into producing them.   “World War I was a very important time for our city, our region and our country, and these two projects demonstrate that,” Mayor Hardaker says.  

“Our staff and the First World War Commemoration Group have worked hard to develop these concepts. These grants will mean the projects can be delivered to our community, and allow them to reflect on a time when our nation changed.”  

Former Hamilton City Councillor Peter Bos, who fostered the relationship between Hamilton and Ypres while in office and has a keen interest in military history, was also delighted with news of the funding. The Memorial Garden will relate to existing World War I memorials, and to the wider context of a popular tree-lined park alongside the Waikato River – the city’s defining geographical feature. There are military connections to the site, which was the location of one of two redoubts built in 1864.  

For us They Fell will have major community input and is centred on the mostly untold stories of men from the Waikato district who fought and died in World War I. The exhibition will be developed  by Wellington-based visitor experience company Story Inc. in collaboration with Waikato Museum.  

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham is excited about the potential of the project this grant has made possible: “For us They Fell is more than an exhibition, this is a project that will document  World War 1 history which is all too quickly being lost. We have forgotten the individual stories of the men who served, and in shocking numbers, died for their country.  

“This  project will extend beyond our walls to reach into Waikato community and evolve during the centenary years to become a focal point for this Museum.”  

Described as a living exhibition, For us They Fell centres on the personal stories of the men who lost their lives and  will follow a three-part chronolgy,  before/during and after the war.  

Story Inc director Steve La Hood says the proposal developed with Hamilton City Council and Waikato Museum will look at the Great War from the point of view of Hamilton and the Waikato region and the impact it had on these communities.  

“We want to involve local people in a more active style of exhibition. We see stories and images being researched or brought in to the Museum by descendants of the people who were caught up in that awful war; or kids from local schools finding out just who were the men whose names are on their local war memorial – and making that part of the exhibition.”    



NAME: Julie Hardaker
DESIGNATION: Hamilton Mayor
TEL (DIRECT): 07 838 6976

NAME: Jeff Neems
DESIGNATION: Communication Advisor
TEL (DIRECT): 07 838 6509
MOBILE: 021 818 564