Military headstones in the Archer St cemetery. PHOTO/ELI HILL

MAZZ SCANNELL

The 800 military headstones in Masterton’s Archer St cemetery will be the first in the region to be restored to Commonwealth War Graves standard, as part of the New Zealand Remembrance Army initiative.

Masterton District Council’s Community Well-being Committee supported the Return and Services project, at its meeting this week.

The restoration initiative is part of a national programme, with local RSAs organising the elbow power in association with the surface treatment Bio-Shield – the spray used to remove the moss, mound and lichen from the headstones.

The painted areas on each headstone will be repaired and repainted with enamel paint and the bronze plaques returned to their original condition.

Masterton Returned and Services welfare officer Willy Simonsen said volunteers will be required.

“They will be placing advertisements in local papers calling for volunteers and they are hoping the community will roll up their sleeves to help them,” he said.

Several schools, including Chanel College, Makoura Service Academy, and Masterton Intermediate School, and Air Training Corps Masterton, have already committed to help with the project.

The NZRA will also take the opportunity to update the military archives, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum records.

An initial public working bee will be held on the site in late June or early July.