Friday, April 22, 2011

First To Honour The ANZACs

There's not much in Tinui.
Tinui's a small village about 40km from Masterton in the Wairarapa - only two streets and 16 houses. Its claim to fame is that it erected the first Anzac memorial in the world, and held the first-ever Anzac Day service.
In April 1916, the vicar of the time led an expedition to place a large wooden cross on top of the 360m / 1200ft. Mount Maunsell behind the village, to commemorate the Gallipoli dead, and a service was held on 25th April that year.
The unveiling of the cross only a year after Gallipoli underlined the impact of the Anzac campaign on the small community: 48 men from the village died there. The similarity between the bleak hilltop and the landscape of Chunuk Bair was not lost on the locals.
Despite being constructed of Jarrah hardwood, the exposed position of the location took its toll on the original memorial and, as a result, in 1965 the degraded timber cross was replaced with the present one made of aluminium.
Now the site is listed as a Category I historic place: this status is given to places of "special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value", and is promoted these days by the Air Force as a domestic alternative to travelling to Gallipoli. Numbers attending the Tinui Memorial Anzac Day service have grown to over 800, as more NZers become aware of the significance of this little village in our heritage.
As I said, there's not much in Tinui - except a big heart in the right place.

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