A splendid send-off – Hawke’s Bay goes to war

One hundred years ago this week, Hawke’s Bay’s first contingent of men were mobilised for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

When the King declared war on behalf of the British Empire on 4 August, New Zealand put its mobilisation plans into action. Men volunteered in their hundreds. Women marshalled in matters of ‘practical patriotism’ – raising funds for the expeditionary force and in equipping men for the front.

The first thirty seven – 10 August

On 6 August Prime Minister William Massey offered troops for Imperial service and the Defence Force made its first call for volunteers. The government promised to have the entire expeditionary force of 8500 men and 3800 horses on its way to Europe in three weeks. Recruiting began on 8 August. Within a week more than 14,000 volunteers had stepped forward. The Hawke’s Bay men accepted into the first draft departed in groups according to the requirements of the unit they were joining. Whether it was a handful of men, or a hundred, thousands of well-wishers turned out for each departure, and sent them on their way with speeches, brass bands, and a chorus of God Save the King.

Some of the first to leave Hawke’s Bay were 37 men who had answered an early call for ambulance brigade members, a machine gun section and railway engineers. A public notice was put up on the evening of the 8th for volunteers; men were selected and fitted out on the 9th, and departed for Wellington on the morning of the 10th. Over 3000 people gave these first volunteers[1] an enthusiastic send-off from the railway stations in Napier and Hastings.

Hastings all agog – 11 August

The earliest dated photographs in the museum’s collection capturing the departure of troops from Hawke’s Bay are three photographs taken at Hastings Railway station on 11 August.

Troops leaving Hastings for Awapuni, 11 August 1914, gifted by Stan Wright. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m74/72, 4923(a)

Troops leaving Hastings for Awapuni, 11 August 1914, gifted by Stan Wright. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m74/72, 4923(b)

Troops leaving Hastings for Awapuni, 11 August 1914, gifted by Stan Wright. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m74/72, 4923(b)

The Daily Telegraph for 11 August notes the departure of one group of men from Hastings on that day. “Hastings was all agog” the paper said “to see one of the first large groups of men to leave Hastings”, the departure of a draft of 25 Mounted Rifles, B Squadron, 9th (Wellington) and their horses, for Awapuni (via Dannevirke), commanded by Lieutenant [Augustine] Georgetti.

These men were to join the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment, formed on 8 August, and which concentrated at Awapuni Racecourse in Palmerston North (alongside other units) from the 12 August.

Napier Contingent Day – 15 August

Napier Contingent Day ribbon. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, [74627]

Napier Contingent Day ribbon. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, [74627]

On a meeting at the Napier Council Chambers on 10 August a ‘Contingent Day’, was proposed for the 15 August to raise funds for the expeditionary force. 250 women were given boxes and badges and let loose upon the pockets of the generous Napier public. Some ladies, the paper noted, started solicitations before breakfast, and they worked till 9.30pm that night, canvassing the streets. Hotel-keepers provided complimentary teas to all collectors. At Taradale, the post mistress, Mrs Hazel took charge, and had twenty girls on horseback scouring the countryside.

These satin badges, of which the museum has half a dozen, were given out to each patriotic purchaser, for a minimum donation of 5s. By noon, 2000 had been distributed and demands were coming in from collectors for more. Napier Contingent Day raised £351 18s 6d in all.   Hawke’s Bay people undertook all manner of concerts, parades and events to raise funds.

Practical patriotism – 16 August

After the declaration of war, and the confirmation New Zealand would send men to fight, the women of Hawke’s Bay banded together in local Ladies’ Expedition Equipment Committees, to consider how to quickly supply the men of Hawke’s Bay with all they would need for the front.[2] At the suggestion of Lady Godley (wife of General Sir Alexander Godley, Commander of the NZEF) the wives and mothers of the men of the 9th Regiment focused their attention on the supply of vests, hold-alls and ‘housewives’. The various branches of the Girls’ Friendly Society of Hawke’s Bay made and contributed 50 pairs of sox, 50 suits of flannel pyjamas and 50 flannel shirts.

Donated goods were collected at drill halls, and citizens were encouraged to make public subscriptions to enable the purchase of materials. Mobilisation commanders directed, and expected that local men be fitted out locally before their transfer to the concentration camps.

On 16 August, the main contingent of Napier men assembled in full force at the drill hall to be presented with the war kits that had been assembled by the women of Napier. Lieutenant Colonel Hislop, officer commanding the 9th Regiment (infantry) made a speech of thanks, “on behalf of the Napier boys going to the front I have to most heartily thank the ladies of this town for equipping them”.

Au Revoir, God speed, and a safe return – 17 August

On the morning of Monday 17 August 1914 the main contingent left Hawke’s Bay.

From Napier, 112 men, including 33 from Gisborne, met at the Drill Hall, where the the Rev J A Asher, conducted a short service, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer. The volunteers, headed by a band, were then marched to the railway station via the Marine Parade, Hastings, Emerson and Munroe streets, all of which were thronged with spectators. The museum holds two photographs of a large contingent of men parading along Marine Parade, on what may be this occasion.

First draft of the NZEF, Napier, August 1914, gifted by Neville Harston. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m76/30, 5241 (a)

First draft of the NZEF, Napier, August 1914, gifted by Neville Harston. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m76/30, 5241 (a)

First draft of the NZEF, Napier, August 1914, gifted by Neville Harston. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m76/30, 5241 (b)

First draft of the NZEF, Napier, August 1914, gifted by Neville Harston. Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m76/30, 5241 (b)

Mayor J Vigor Brown and Lieutenant-Colonel Hislop spoke to the 112 contingenters and a crowd of 7,000 enthusiastic spectators from the balcony of the Terminus Hotel.

The papers reported:

“A most enthusiastic send-off was given to the local volunteers for active service this morning, many thousands of residents of all ages cheering the men on in their noble response to the great call from the Motherland for some of her stalwart sons.

Everyone appeared to be excited and patriotic in the extreme. Flags fluttered everywhere. Ladies wore ties of red, white and blue.

Some of the crowd were gathered together in small knots, only too evidently related to some member of the departing warriors, and in such groups were to be seen many saddened faces and moistened eyes. It was a scene of intense enthusiasm, dampened only by the stern realty of what was before the brave lads who had so nobly responded to the call.[3]

In Hastings, the town despatched 48 members of B Company 9th Hawke’s Bay Regiment (old Hastings Rifles) and nine mounted rifles on the same special military train as the Napier and Gisborne men. Crowds began to assemble on the railway platform from 9am, and the paper notes that,

“by the time the men, headed by the Union Jack, wheeled into Station street to the inspiriting strains of the Hastings Band, something like 4000 persons had gathered on the platform, on the verandah roofs, tops of railway carriages, trees, and every available spot, to watch the lads’ departure.”

“When all were aboard, the train, whistling “hip hip hurrah! steamed out over exploding fog signals, amidst waving of handkerchiefs and sustained cheering, the Salvation Army Band playing ‘God Be With you till we meet again’”

These scenes of departure were repeated again and again from 1914 to 1918 as reinforcements were mobilised for the front. In my next post I’ll be writing about the next stage of the journey, and the experience of Hawke’s Bay men, at Awapuni, and other camps, as they prepared to depart for the war.

Can you help?

Piecing together the story of the departure of the first contingent of Hawke’s Bay men is a challenge, and my research is very much a work in progress. If you have information to share please get in touch.

I’m particularly keen to find out if there are any more photographs of the departure of Hawke’s Bay men in 1914 out there? Or better yet, letters, or diaries written by Hawke’s Bay men and women which shed light on daily life and activities in the early months of the war.

Did any of your ancestors depart as part of these first contingents of Hawke’s Bay men?

Eloise Wallace

Curator of Social History



[1] The Napier recruits for the Field Ambulance Corps were BH Dyson; JH Ward; WH Wrathall; C Page; CB Angrove; JC Twomey; JA Campbell; ES Flood; FN McGee; C Collins and B Trim. The Hastings Ambulance contingent were Corporal McGuirk, Privates P Henderson, A Ford, R McKeown, V Portas, C Halse, R Chadwick, C Money, E Cruickshanks, J broad, G McNaughton, C Heald, WH Temperley, Duncan and Grant. The machine gun section members were H McCutcheon; WR Proffitt, S McConnochie, P McLean and JW Rowney, all of Napier. Napier railway staff, Sergeants Hammond and Mullaney, Sappers Hatwell, Woodville, Johnson, Marriott and Greenslade all left for Wellington to join the railway contingent. The Daily Telegraph, Monday 10 August 1014

[2] A public call was made for items such as strong pocket knives, strong cord, double or single blankets, dubbing for boots, empty pillowslips, underclothing, shirts, socks, towels, soap, brush and comb, shaving material, cleaning material for arms, needles pins and strong thread, forks, spoons, plates and pannikins.

[3] Monday 17 August 1914 Daily Telegraph


Whakawhanaungatanga: Building relationships

In 2012 MTG Hawke’s Bay received a letter from the Minister of Culture and Heritage stating that Ngāti Pāhauwera wished to establish a formal relationship with MTG Hawke’s Bay. We responded to confirm our willingness to do this.

In July this year, MTG staff were able to take that relationship a step further, meeting a group of about forty Ngāti Pāhauwera kaumatua kānohi ki te kānohi (face-to-face). After calling the group into the MTG’s Ahuriri collection store, our Kaumātua Piri Prentice spoke in welcome.

Six of our Collections Team members had brought out taonga connected to the Ngāti Pāhauwera rohe as well as a selection of the many taonga we care for that do not have known provenance.

Ngati Pahauwera visit3Ngāti Pāhauwera visitors admire taonga from the HBMT Ruawharo-Tā-ū-rangi collection.

Ngati Pahauwera visitThe MTG Collection Team show the visitors a korowai from the HBMT Ruawharo-Tā-ū-rangi collection.

IMG_3508MTG’s Gail Pope, with visitors and archive highlights from the HBMT Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection.

IMG_3507MTG’s Tryphena Cracknell, looks at toki from the HBMT Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection with visitors.

For MTG staff, opportunities such as these allow us to enable the relationship between whānau and taonga. As with almost all museums, there will never be enough space to display the entire collection and for the team, this is the way in which we are able to maintain accessibility to the collection, for whānau, hapū and marae groups. We finished off with morning tea and an open invitation to return with more of their whānau.


Tryphena Cracknell
Kaitiaki Taonga Māori
August 2014

Helmet for a Pillow


The soldier, above all others, prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

– Douglas MacArthur, 1962

Every once in a while there are certain individuals who cross our path and provide insight into areas of life that we would not normally venture. Anyone younger than 65 has more than likely never seen the direct effects of, or fought in a war. While our families can recall grandparents and great-grandparents that fought in either of the world wars, conflict in our recent history has been confined for the most part to our television screens. That is why it is important to keep the memories of those who served alive and undistorted; so that we may never forget that war really is hell.

Bernard 1Bernard Madden, photograph courtesy of Barbara Madden.

One of our latest donations, a large collection of letters between a serviceman and his family during the Second World War, has shone unique views onto military service and the home front in this tumultuous time. In April 1941, Bernard Madden, a 26 year-old driver for Amalgamated Couriers of Napier, left his parents and enlisted in the New Zealand armed forces. After undertaking three months basic training at Trentham, Bernard was quickly sent off to the Middle East as a gunner in the 7th Anti-Tank Regiment, 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force where he served as a gunner and later a driver.

While overseas Bernard sent many letters to his parents in Napier.  They were read and then passed on to his extended family who lived throughout the Hawke’s Bay region as mail restrictions disallowed excessive postage. It becomes apparent reading through these letters that the first priority for Bernard was of the need to reassure the family at every possible opportunity that he was doing well. Surface-sent letters, which were bulkier and took longer to travel, were sent every week, but he did not hesitate to send faster-arriving, smaller airgraphs (at considerable personal expense) in between these weekly letters to reassure the family.

2013.65.10a (1) Letter from Bernard Madden, 20 September 1941, gifted by Barbara Madden, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2013/65/10

Bernard appears deeply involved with both his close and extended family. He at times questions if his father’s health is holding up and asks his mother, Louisa, if she is surviving the rationing period, frequently offering to send items home. When his brother Patrick was listed as missing in action as Axis forces advanced on Egypt in 1942, Bernard took it upon himself to question every soldier from Patrick’s unit about his brother’s fate. After Bernard learnt that he was taken prisoner, first to Italy and then to Germany, he made sure the family was kept up-to-date on his location and on the best way to send him his favourite tobacco. Sister Noeline and Cousin Lola were frequently reprimanded for ‘flirting’ with American soldiers based in New Zealand, while his young niece Moira appeared to be his favourite as he constantly asked about her schooling and after-school activities. The agony of being away from those he cared about shows through in Bernard’s writing, particularly as children in the family, some which he had never met,  grew up in the years he was away.

While Bernard did not see much front line action, he did see his fair share of hospital wards. The infection of a scratch on the leg early in the war was the start of a long list of maladies including influenza, intestinal problems and a significant hernia which, due to lifting heavy objects constantly, kept him in hospital and off the front lines for significant amounts of time. This had the unintended effect of allowing for long periods of recuperation time which, since permanent hospitals and respite camps were well behind the front lines, meant Bernard took the time to travel throughout the Middle East and Italy. Bernard’s letters tell of the large orchards scattered throughout Palestine, visiting Jewish communities and learning about their culture, visiting seaside resorts and tours of the countryside with other servicemen. Bernard was also in the right place at the right time during his Italian tour of duty; he writes of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in March 1944 and of arriving back at base minutes before a grand tour of Rome left for the capital.

By the time he had finished his service, Bernard Madden had served with 2 NZEF throughout its major operations in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Italy. In addition, he had managed to see the sites of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Bernard left the armed forces after returning to Napier in August 1945 with six campaign medals, later settling in the suburb of Otahuhu, Auckland. His medical conditions, however, lingered, as the effects of war always do, and he was in and out of hospital until late the next year when he was officially discharged from the armed forces. Bernard passed away in Auckland aged 54 years and is survived by his wife Betty, seven children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He is interred in the soldiers’ section of the Manukau Memorial Gardens.

All 150 of Bernard’s letters are now available on the MTG Hawke’s Bay online collection.

Evan Greensides
April 2014

Behind the Scenes by Gloria

Hello! I’m Gloria, an 18 year old student experiencing MTG for a week during April. I have put together a little photo essay on the backworkings of the museum from my perspective. Colour, shape, texture, pattern, our eyes pick up all these elements of a space subconsciously creating the overall mood or echo of a place. Light and airy, MTG Hawke’s Bay is a haven for beautiful and fine objects. Not only do our eyes observe the exhibitions but they also take in the surroundings which act as a canvas in which to display them. Check out the full photo essay over on MTG’s flickr page

Looking down the archive shelves

Historic photographs hanging

Wheels to drive the moveable shelving

Hidden histories

The stage is set


Look up!

Gloria Reid-Parisian
Highschool student
April 2014

Autumn exhibition changeover: week three

This week of the changeover saw our upcoming exhibitions brought to life as we began to install objects in the galleries. We welcomed Bronwynne Cornish and Katy Wallace to MTG to oversee the installation of their work in the exhibitions. The week started with the last of the plinths being placed in the spaces and the assembling of over 150 object mounts ready for install.

An object mount is a custom-made stand, each made by our mount makers to a unique design.  Their role is to provide effective and safe support to the object, all while taking into account the intent of the artist and the viewer experience.

_DSC9886Finished object mounts ready for installation

The mounts are made from stainless steel rods which are fashioned into the desired shape. Once shaped the steel is then coated with inert silicon tubing, or treated with a specially coloured plastic.  This coating protects the object from direct contact with the metal and enables us to ensure the mount sit unobtrusively against the object it supports.  Object mounts ensure the safety of objects on display, particularly as a safeguard against the risk of earthquake damage.  MTG staff installed objects one by one over the course of the week.

_DSC9920MTG staff installing objects into the Mudlark exhibition

_DSC9892Objects waiting to be installed

_DSC9862Pins, which are another type of mount used to secure the object, are assembled into the base of a plinth

_DSC9929An object being installed into its mount

_DSC9878An installed object with a specially designed mount support and pin

Next week will see two large scale works installed, the mounting of graphics and final touches made to gallery lighting. Find out more about our new exhibitions, which open to the public next Saturday 29th March on our website: http://mtghawkesbay.com/whats-on/upcoming-exhibitions/

Sarah Powell

Collections Assistant- Photography

March 2014

Museum school trips forever memorable

At MTG we deliver education programmes on all sorts of interesting subjects.  Just in the past few weeks I have taught about places and events of significance to us here in Hawke’s Bay, about culture and identity and about endangered and extinct animals. This is in addition to our popular ongoing programmes: Treasures of MTG, Living History!, and our Quake 1931 programme, a perennial favourite.

As a school pupil I loved the visits outside the classroom my intermediate school teacher, Patrick Sheehan, now deceased, took us on as part of our inquiry learning. We went to the cruise ship Rangitane, the Auckland Post office, the Auckland Museum, to rest homes to deliver chocolates to the elderly (we even won the crossword prize in a local newspaper which gave us the money to buy the chocolates –  I always thought that must have been rigged)! I vividly remember asking dozens of questions, and on our visit to the Rangitane being given a flash ice cream sundae in the dining room of the cruise ship, all indelible memories.

The lasting impact of these experiences has always given me a great faith in this type of learning.  As a young teacher I was so enthusiastic to get my class to the Auckland Museum I arrived an hour before opening! The class didn’t mind tumbling horizontally down the hills surrounding the Museum while I apologized to the understanding parents for getting the time wrong!

Now as a museum educator myself I love to read the letters and quirky drawings we receive from children who have attended one of our programmes. They can be full of superlatives and personal compliments. Here are a couple of recent letters I particularly enjoyed.

kids drawing_0001 crop

From a teenage visitor:  “As they say first impressions count and mine of yours was that you were polite, cheerful and happy doing what you do. That you didn’t wake up in the morning because you have to get to work you get up because you look forward to broadening peoples perspectives on the wider community and that you want to teach others so that they are aware that they have a way to make a difference in this world and that is what you did to the girls that passed through your doors.”

From a younger student: “ I truly enjoyed doing all the activities, and looking at the exhibits, as it was my first time at this Museum.” Her drawing of making a badge to take home is above. The parent is the headless one!

Gaynor Comley
MTG Educator
March 2014

In small things not forgotten

My grandfather, Arthur Black, often told stories of growing up in Porangahau; a childhood filled with adventure – the rugged Southern Hawke’s Bay landscape providing him and his five siblings with a glorious freedom to roam the countryside surrounding their farm. Although I have never lived in this part of New Zealand until now, family stories passed down through the generations and etched into my memory have made this place, Hawke’s Bay, feel like my place.

The Black family, Hawke’s Bay, 1930s. My Grandfather is centre back.
Photo courtesy of Heather Tanguay.

I came to Napier to work at the museum as a collection assistant, but for me it is much more than that. I have returned to connect to the place of those who I hold so dearly; to the landscape that nourished their lives and imaginations, as well as their frustrations and hardships. I think the very same motivation that draws me to connect with my family history in Hawke’s Bay underlines why I have chosen to work in museums. The lines that connect us to the past have always fascinated me. Ever since I was little, when I looked at objects I wanted to see so much more than just the physical form. I wanted to know its history, its story, its lineage. Reflecting on all of this, it makes sense that I have a job where I am surrounded by objects!

British potter Edmund de Waal is clearly also fascinated by the stories that objects can tell if you listen hard enough. His intriguing family history is charted through the movement of a collection of netsuke in his memoir The Hare with the Amber Eyes. One excerpt has always resonated with me and, much more poetically than I, articulates the potential power of objects:

 I want to know what the relationship has been between this…object…and where it has been. I want to be able to reach to the handle of the door and turn it and feel it open. I want to walk into each room where this object lived, to feel the volume of the space, to know what pictures were on the wall, how the light fell from the windows. And I want to know whose hands it has been in, and what they felt about it and thought about it—if they thought about it. I want to know what it has witnessed.

As dramatic and illustrious as de Waal’s family history is, even the most humble object has a story that deserves to be told.

Netsuke, Japan, from the Black Collection, collection of  Hawke's Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 37/100/

Netsuke, Japan, from the Black Collection,
collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 37/100/18

A netsuke was used traditionally by Japanese as a way of tying valuables such as a purse or a tobacco pouch to their kimono sash. This intricately carved Japanese octopus netsuke was collected by Greacen Black (no relation) on one of his many travels and donated to the museum in 1937. Can you think of an object which has a rich story behind it? Are there any objects within the museum’s collection which are connected to your personal family history? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Nina Finigan
Collection Assistant
February 2014