Another way to remember the fallen

Help needed for remembrance project

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 07:45 11/04/2014
Cross
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

PROJECT OF REMEMBERANCE: Peter Olsen, right, is co-ordinating a project to help honour those in the community who serves and died during WWI. Helpers are, from left, Abbey Beard, Anna Shortall and Luke Murphy from Colyton School.

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A Manawatu man on a mission to honour New Zealand's servicemen has extended his sights to installing hundreds of white crosses around the region, and is calling for help.

Retired Colyton farmer Peter Olsen plans another tribute for the World War I centennial commemorations.

Olsen has been restoring more than 60 memorials throughout the region for nearly two years, to restore them to their former glory in time for the 2015 centenary of the Gallipoli landing.

Now he is rallying interest for Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association-run Fields of Remembrance project that encourages Kiwis to create spaces with white crosses honouring those in their community who served overseas during WWI.

The centenary will be marked with commemorative projects and activities starting in August - Olsen started Manawatu's efforts early by single-handedly building 15 60-centimetre-tall crosses and encouraging students from Colyton School to help him at the township war memorial yesterday. The students will now research the stories of the servicemen in time for a grand reveal on Anzac Day.

Olsen said it was a nice way to honour Manawatu's servicemen.

"This is not just a project for one man . . . I'm sure if I got three or four blokes with similar thinking we could handle it."

Olsen has a love of history and the armed forces. He is compiling a book on the region's war memorial history and has two memorials in Taikari and Rongotea still to be restored.

So far Olsen has raised interest from Linton's military police platoon after Staff Sergeant Lee Ansell read about his mission while seconded in Afghanistan.

The Manawatu District Council and the Government minister responsible for the centenary programme, Christopher Finlayson, have commended Olsen for his efforts.

To help, contact Peter Olsen on 06 328 7711 or mp.me@xtra.co.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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