"...But Featherston is home to many of Wairarapa’s historical treasures and in no small measure this includes the Anzac Hall.
Featherston was home to one of the training camps for soldiers heading over to fight on the Turkish beaches and later in the trenches of Europe. The Featherston Military Camp was established after the railway to Wellington opened and was no longer needed to house workers. Cavalry, artillery and infantry were trained here and, with 8000 soldiers in training at a time, more than 30,000 men passed through Featherston Military Camp on their way to World War I.
Of the 7500 New Zealand casualties suffered in the Gallipoli campaign, 2721 died – one in four of those who landed – and many of these would have trained at the Featherston camp.
In 1916, the year after the Gallipoli campaign, the Featherston community was struck with the same patriotism and nationalistic fervour hitting many of New Zealand’s towns. They wanted some way to remember their dead, to give something back to those who had already returned and to those who were heading over to “fight for king and country”.
In March the idea of the hall was struck and all the descendants of the early settler families were asked to contribute £50 – a great deal of money by today’s standards – and all people in the district were asked to donate something, including crockery, cutlery, paintings, photos and chairs. However many donated a lot more, some fronting up with the princely sum of £300.
Within three weeks they had all the money they needed, the equivalent of $1 million today, and the first meeting of the Wairarapa Anzac Club was held. A design was agreed upon, foundations laid, walls built and the roof on within months, all without the use of an architect.
Native heart timber panelling and pressed metal wall coverings give the hall further ambience and the floor was covered with a special cork. The hall was equipped with all the modern conveniences, including electric lights..."
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