Kuranui College commemorated 100 years since the start of the World War One with a remembrance concert and tree planting ceremony on the last day of term.
The special event was organised by a group of Year 10 students from the gifted and talented programme, whose task was to locate and invite descendants of the 117 local Greytown men who lost their lives during the Great War to the school for the commemoration.
The students researched the Greytown war memorial at Soldiers Memorial Park on Kuratawhiti Street, and were able to get in contact with more than 20 families connected to the men who died.
The concert began with a Year 10 drama performance of Noel Coward’s ‘Post Mortem’, followed by music and songs taken from the war eras and performed by Kuranui music students. The concert concluded with the college’s award-winning Stage Challenge entry ‘Lest We Forget’, which drew great emotion from the invited audience of rest home residents.
Year 9 student AJ Southey led the party of guests to the tree planting with his bagpipes. Guests included Her Worship Adrienne Staples, Mayor of South Wairarapa, Dick Smith of Featherston RSA and Major Mark Bateman from the NZ Army.
Kuranui College has recently removed a large pine hedge along Bidwell’s Cutting Road and has replaced the hedge with 117 native trees. Three students, Grace Voice, Jessie Fryer and Laura Dudson, planted a totara tree. Grace and Jessie’s great-great uncle was Corporal Herbert R Knowles who died at Ypres, and Laura’s great-great uncle was Second-Lieutenant Louis Chanel Dudson, who sadly died two weeks before the end of the war.
In his speech to the college, Major Bateman explained that more than 10 per cent of New Zealand’s men went away to serve in the war. “Almost one in every five of those never came home again,” he explained.
“More than the whole of the today’s population of the Wairarapa were wounded in action. So remember this moment not as a tree planting ceremony, for it is much more than that. It is one tree, one hundred years, one thousand lives and one million memories.”
A plaque will be mounted on rock to explain the significance of the new trees, which the college hopes will serve as a reminder of those who gave up their lives for their country.