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Waharoa encapsulates all that Trentham Camp is about

A waharoa that represents a century of variety at Trentham camp in Upper Hutt has had a Matariki unveiling.

31 July, 2023

The illuminated waharoa, adjacent to St Francis Chapel near the entrance to the camp, includes pou made from two 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun barrels from the six anti-aircraft batteries which were located around Wellington during World War II to protect essential harbour activities from enemy aircraft.

The idea for the history-steeped waharoa came from the Officer Commanding (OC) Trentham Camp, Major Jim Maguire.

“I was very impressed with the Pare or lintel that sat above the entrance to the Command and Staff College when I started my role there a few years ago.”

When he began his role as OC of Trentham Camp he realised the camp had no real visual connection with the land or with tangata whenua.  “For a camp with such historic connections within our region and with our local community this needed to be addressed.”

Some time ago he spotted two old anti-aircraft gun barrels outside the disposals store in camp. “They immediately struck me as having the potential to be repurposed as two strong and unique pou at the entrance to our camp.” He was inspired by the waharoa connected to the visitor centre at QE II Park at Paekakariki. That waharoa was made of cut aluminium that incorporated both traditional and contemporary images.

Major Maguire asked Trentham’s local and defence cultural advisors for guidance and discussed the idea with Ewan Conaghan of the camp’s DLE design office.

“Never one to shy away from a challenge Ewan put his considerable talents and imagination to work and within a couple of weeks he had designed a quite remarkable piece of work.”

Mr Conaghan said he wanted the waharoa to encapsulate all that Trentham Camp is about.

“This is not my story but the on-going story of the camp and how over more than 100 years it has seen the development and deployment of service personnel and civilians.”

The design of the waharoa has a bi-cultural emphasis involving three services and civilians forming one force while honouring and respecting those who had fallen.

“As we all know, no-one can do their job alone so the artwork incorporates leadership, comradeship, family and community support,” said Mr Conaghan.

Once the preliminary artwork was completed a meeting was held to get sign off by all parties to ensure the design was true to the initial proposal. The artwork and drawings were sent to RealSteel in Upper Hutt to be laser cut and folded from weathered steel. DLE Engineering Services Workshop completed the welding and helped mount and assemble the waharoa.

It was then sand blasted back to bare metal to allow the natural rust process to take place to promote the overall effect.

Unveiling of a waharoa at Trentham Military Camp on the eve of the Matariki holiday. Unveiling of a waharoa at Trentham Military Camp on the eve of the Matariki holiday. Unveiling of a waharoa at Trentham Military Camp on the eve of the Matariki holiday.