Communities gets behind war memorial

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014
War memorial co-ordinator Julie Russell
JOHN HAWKINS / Fairfax NZ

IDEAS BECOME REALITY: War memorial co-ordinator Julie Russell inspects one the Invercargill memorials that will be included on a website inventory of more than 400 Southland memorials.

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More than 400 Southland war memorials have been correlated to be part of a new online database.

The inventory was put together by Venture Southland community development team leader Bobbi Brown and Southland Regional Heritage Committee war memorial co-ordinator Julie Russell with the help of Invercargill woman Ann Robbie who came up with the popular idea in 2003.

Brown said Southlanders were getting in contact to ensure their local memorials had been included, with some finding memorials that lay hidden in hay sheds for years.

Honour boards, plaques, statues, trees and birdbaths make up some of the collection from throughout the region.

The next step was to work with communities, funders, and stakeholders about assessing those that need fixing up, Brown said.

One community group met the organisers with a memorial plaque in the back of a truck, she said.

"They did not know what to do with it, so we are helping them find a mount for it to go on display.

"The community has got behind the project because they are passionate about their memorials."

The database website is being designed by the Southern Institute of Technology in conjunction with Kia Mate Toa and will go live before June.

The public can use the interactive database to look at photos, find the location and learn about the soldiers' contribution to the war.

Russell believed the database was a first for New Zealand and had been told by funders it could be an example for other regions to follow.

Venture Southland has made an application for a lottery grant of $450,000 for a series of proposed projects in the region to commemorate Southland at Gallipoli next year during the centenary. It will find out on April 16 if it has been successful.

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