Schoolboy takes up the challenge

03:24, Apr 24 2012
Southern war memorials
THE RIGHT LOOK: Logan Begg, 17, beside the Kauana War Memorial.

War memorials around the world are there to remind future generations to remember their predecessors' sacrifices, and none illustrates this point more poignantly than the Southland boy who, at the age of 11, led the charge to restore the Kauana memorial to its former glory.

Logan Begg was a pupil at Limehills School when he applied for one of the $5000 grants being handed out by the Government to mark Year of the Veteran in 2006.

His application was successful, and now, six years later, the memorial looks the way it should – like we have remembered them.

In 2006, with Logan at the helm, locals formed a working bee to ensure the memorial was spruced up in time for Anzac Day that year, planting donated trees, plastering and painting the memorial itself, and building a fence out of wood also donated for the cause. Bark chips and a lime walkway – courtesy of the nearby Fernhill Limeworks – completed the picture.

Now 17 and a student at Central Southland College, Logan admits he doesn't have much to do with the memorial these days – a couple of Kauana residents take care of keeping it tidy and his mother Caroline can sometimes be found doing the gardening around it.

But, unconsciously, his words hint at how much his decision to do something about the sad state of the memorial, withering into obscurity, meant to the people of Kauana.


"I think they thought it was pretty good that someone had taken control and did something about it. It was sort of the last thing in town ... the Kauana Hall was in the process of getting knocked down, so they just didn't want that to happen to the memorial as well."

"It looks a lot nicer now, rather than sort of a run-down memorial."

One of his great-grandfathers and two great-uncles are commemorated on the memorial – part of the reason he took such a keen interest.

And while an Anzac Day service has not been held at the memorial for some time, he continues to lay poppies at its base each year.

Teacher Kirsty Rodger still remembers when Logan first began working on the project to restore the Kauana memorial.

Her pupils were asked to come up with a landscaping idea as part of a competition to win plantings for their chosen site, and Logan opted to draw up plans for giving Kauana memorial a much-needed facelift.

Although he did not win that competition, when Ms Rodger heard the Government was giving out funding as part of the Year of the Veteran she realised Logan's social studies project was a perfect candidate.

During the Christmas holidays, Logan worked hard to put together his application, and even got to be on a first-name basis with then-Minister of Veterans Affairs Rick Barker, she said.

"His letters would start `Dear Rick'."

Logan worked hard and gained a lot of important skills for somebody so young, having to learn how to use a spreadsheet, stick to a budget, and organise that year's Anzac Day service, which was held at the memorial, she said.

Like those in the Kauana community, she was proud to see Logan's hard work come to fruition.

"At the end of the day, every time he drives past that war memorial he can see what he did, and that's pretty special."

– Sources: Logan Begg, Kirsty Rodger

The Kauana War Memorial was originally built on the highest point of Fernhill after World War I, where it stood for 20 years before the Fernhill Lime Company, which started in 1941, deemed the site potentially unstable.

The memorial's marble tablets were then moved to and stored in the Kauana Hall until they were updated and installed on a new monument after World War II. In 1956, the memorial, which recognises the service of 46 men from Kauana involved in both world wars, underwent repair work to stop it from subsiding. It was upgraded again in 2006. Information: New Zealand History Online, Ministry for Culture and Heritage

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