Historic emblem is roaring again

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 13:00 11/03/2014
stag emblem
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
HISTORY REVIVED: Visitors inspect the re-created stag emblem on a Tapawera hillside.

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The revival of a historic regimental emblem in Tapawera has been celebrated with a World War I-era dedication.

The Returned and Services Association and the 2nd Canterbury Nelson Marlborough West Coast Battalion Group of the Territorials gathered in Tapawera on Saturday for a ceremony to recognise the stag emblem, which was re-created on a private hillside.

The dedication was held using only old lamps, dimmed lights and no amplification to recreate the ambience of 1914, and many dressed the part in army uniforms and period costume.

Among the visitors was Maurice Abrahams, 94, who spent a week in 1933 at the camp at Tapawera as a 13-year-old army cadet.

Historical society member Maurice Taylor said Mr Abrahams played the Last Post to great effect. One of Mr Abrahams' jobs had been to carry buckets of whitewash up the hill so that the men could whiten the stones of the original emblem.

Nelson Historic Society president Karen Stade and Nelson Museum chief executive Peter Millward attended the dedication ahead of a major World War I exhibition to be held at the museum from August.

The emblem represents the former 12th and 13th Nelson Marlborough West Coast Regiment, which gathered in the Tapawera area for training during 1914. Their regimental emblem was created on a private hillside north of Tapawera.

It was well-maintained during World War I and II, but gradually disappeared after 1945. Mr Taylor researched the emblem in old photographs from the Nelson Provincial Museum, and began re-creating it a year ago.

He mapped out the shape in plywood and pizza boxes, and completed the re-creation in November with the help of army reserve soldiers. The 2nd/4th Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment 7 carted about 6 tonnes of whitestone rock up to the hillside to shape the historic stag.

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