135 Featherston Remembrance Garden

The story

135 Remembrance Garden Featherston, Memorial Cherry Trees 2018

Reason for the name

The Featherston Remembrance Garden marks the place where 48 Japanese Prisoners of War and 1 New Zealand guard were fatally shot on 25th February 1943. 

 

The Featherston Remembrance Garden marks the place where 48 Japanese Prisoners of War and 1 New Zealand guard were fatally shot on 25th February 1943.  The Prisoners of War and guard were shot and killed because of a riot within the camp grounds.  The riot started because a group of Japanese prisoners of war held a sit down strike refusing to work.  Guards then fired a warning shot which hit a Japanese Lieutenant, the prisoners of war then protested and the guards started firing shots.

Authors:   Written by Abby Scott and Kimberley Hewison. Researched by: Chloe North and Waikura Waata-Dawson.

In 1914 there was a need for another military camp to accommodate the increasing number of wartime recruits.  In January 1915 the Defence Department started construction of the military camp with construction completed by January 1915.  On the 23rd of January 1916 1400 men who were camped at Tauherenikau marched to the new Featherston Military Camp.

The Featherston Military Camp was the largest training camp in New Zealand. 60,000 men were trained for war in Europe between 1916 and 1918.   At its peak it could sleep more than 9000 men. 

By the end of World War I influenza had spread throughout the camp, the camp was then turned into a hospital to nurse the sick back to health.  The Defence Department decided to move 300 German prisoners of war from Wellington to the Featherston Military Camp so from 1919-20 the Featherston Military Camp became a hospital and a prison.

The Featherston Military Camp was pulled down in the late 1920s with many buildings being destroyed.

In September 1942 the United States requested that Featherston Military Camp be turned into a prisoner of war camp.  The camp held prisoners of war from the Japanese Imperial Army who had been captured in the South Pacific.

In 2001 68 cherry trees were planted in straight rows to symbolise soldiers on duty to commemorate the “Featherston Incident”.  However, the next day vandals ripped up approximately 40 of the trees but they were since replanted and still survive to this day.

Today there is a plaque with a haiku:

“Behold the summer grass

All that remains

Of the dreams of warriors.”

Commemoration

135 Remembrance Garden Featherston St Teresas School

All of the stories from Featherston were compiled by Students from Featherston School and St Teresa's School. This photo shows Mrs Watson and Mrs Muth with children from St Teresa’s school.

Council records

South Wairarapa District Council

Address:      19 Kitchener Street, Martinborough 5711

                    PO Box 6, Martinborough 5741

                    New Zealand

Telephone:   06 306 9611

Fax:              06 306 9373

Email:           enquiries@swdc.govt.nz