War treasures returned

20:05, Dec 18 2012
The Coates Challenge Cup
COMING HOME: The Coates Challenge Cup held by Dargaville Museum President Don Elliot has been returned to its rightful home. Also pictured are Honorary Colonel Gordon Ellis, left, and president Don McKensie.

War memorabilia has been returned to Dargaville.

Whangarei's Harding Hall, named after a Tangiteroria farmer, has been closed down and the 3rd Auckland (CRO) and Northland Battalion Trust is distributing pieces of priceless history to three museums - Matakohe, Whangarei and Dargaville.

President Don McKensie joined by Honorary Colonel Gordon Ellis, Regimental Sergeant Major Roddy Hickling and Commanding Officer Chris Powell proudly handed Dargaville Museum president Don Elliot the treasures including a shooting cup with special links to Dargaville.

"Apparently this unit had very interesting and priceless history and that shouldn't be lost."

The Coates Challenge Cup, presented yearly to the best Lewis Gun shot, was named after New Zealand's 21st prime minister Joseph Gordon Coates.

During his three-year run the Kaipara man's electorate secretary was Dargaville's Margaret Harding.


The cup's inscriptions go back to 1934.

Names such as Ron Hobson are on the cup. "You couldn't get anyone more Dargaville than that," Mr McKensie says.

Coates was officer commanding the 15th North Auckland Company of the 1st Battalion of the Auckland Infantry Regiment in the Great War but ultimately, his political tie to Mrs Harding is what returned the cup to the museum in Harding Park.

Dargaville RSA president John Mclean thanked Mr McKensie for influencing the trustees to bring some of the memorabilia back to Dargaville.

"It reinforces what we stand for, lest we forget."

The museum also received a 1915 souvenir from Egypt alongside historic photographs including one of the North Auckland colours presentation in 1937 - these will feature in the museum's armed forces cabinet.

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