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Drill Hall Memorial given an official opening

You may have noticed something different about the corner of SH2 Chapel St and Lincoln Rd.

The Drill Hall Memorial, erected in early June, was officially unveiled in a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday.

Mayor Gary Caffell cut the ribbon as responsibility for the memorial was handed over to the Masterton District Council before Reverend Merv Jones of St Matthews church blessed the site.

The memorial serves to commemorate the 17th Ruahine Regiment and 9th Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles Regiment, and the long-gone Masterton Drill Hall they once used.

Local historians Alan Fielding and Neil Frances have both worked tirelessly on the project since 2016.

During the small ceremony attended by local government officials, historians, archivists, and a representative from the NZDF, Frances admitted that their ideas were originally very different.

“[Fielding] wanted to remember the two units that trained here on the formation of the Territorial Army in 1911”, he said.

“My idea really was to remember the drill hall.”

The Drill Hall memorial recognises both men’s ideas and commemorates the strong history of the region.

The hall was once the hub for military activity in Wairarapa, and when the Territorial Army was formed, it became the army office.

It later became home to the Masterton Amateur Theatrical Society before it was eventually demolished.

Frances wanted to acknowledge and thank the donors and contributors to the project.

“A lot of local businesses, organisations and individuals have donated freely to this project”, he said.

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