Pukeuri war memorial in 2009.
The memorial is a square obelisk of schist ashlar blocks cemented together with a concrete pyramid cap. On two sides of the memorial are black granite panels, which record the names of 16 First World War casualties.
The original First World War Pukeuri war memorial was erected after locals successfully raised substantial local funds.
It was probably not a Bergamini structure and it looks like it may have been organised by Crombie in Oamaru. It was however very substantial and it appears to have been nearly 6 metres tall, surmounted by a marble effigy of a soldier. The soldier is said to have been nearly identical to the soldier on the First World War memorial in Palmerston and parts of the wreckage do bear that out.
The memorial comprised four concrete steps, a plastered concrete base featuring Moeraki (red) gravels) a large rectangular marble base bearing the names and the inscription, complete with small columns at each corner with miniature Corinthian capitals, then an elaborate tapered base block of marble with crossed rifles and the statue itself. The memorial was within an enclosure of plastered concrete columns and a low fence with Moeraki gravels decoration and a steel rail.
It was located on the North West corner of the SH1 intersection with what is now SH83 to Kurow and although the road has been realigned since, the old formation can still be seen.
It was in a vulnerable location and it was crashed into at least four times by vehicles (including a police officer on a motorcycle) failing to negotiate the bend. Local advice is that the same person crashed into the barrier around the memorial on three separate occasions.
Eventually the District Council abandoned repair of the barrier/fence and chains, leaving the memorial even more vulnerable as vehicle speeds increased with improvements in the road surface.
On 24th July 1971 a young farmhand crashed into the memorial at speed and demolished it. He was killed.
The pieces of the memorial were salvaged and they 'hung around' for 30 years while everyone prevaricated about reinstating it. A location outside the Pukeuri Hall (well away from SH1 down a side road) was rejected and it wasn't until a local woman, Noeline Wilson wrote to the Oamaru Mail in April 1998 inquiring where the memorial was, that something was done. She had wanted to place flowers on the memorial on ANZAC day that year to honour two uncles who were killed.
Local people formed a fund raising commitee and successfully raised funds to acquire land (a gift from Alliance Freezing Works) and have the new memorial built.
It was unveiled on 2nd April 2006. A long time for the community to be without its treasured memorial.
Parts of the old memorial are said to be still in private hands in the Waitaki area. The attached pictures of the inscribed base are dated October 1995.
This information has been derived from material provided to Bruce Comfort by Mrs. Noeline Wilson.