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Last Anzac project reveals World War II mystery

The Last Anzac, the war memorial cenotaph at Masterton’s Queen Elizabeth Park. PHOTO/FILE


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The recent restoration project on Masterton’s Last Anzac statue has revived an eight-decade old mystery.

Restorers working on the Wairarapa Soldiers Memorial last week found a British World War II medal at the statue’s feet.

Carolina Izzo, a Wellington-based, internationally renowned art conservator, and her team visited Masterton last week to deliver some tender loving care to the Queen Elizabeth Park monument.

Izzo, and colleague Maria Pagu, gave the 1923 Frank Lynch sculpture a once over for corrosion and any other deterioration, using a cherry picker.

The duo found the medal at the feet of the sculpture.

The sculpture is a likeness of the artist’s brother, at ease and waiting on for evacuation from Anzac Cove.

The January, 1916, evacuation ended the ill-fated campaign, most famous for its April 25 landing.

However, the medal dates from the 1939 to 1945 conflict.

“We noted a WWII medal placed at the feet of the solider,” Izzo said.

“We thought this was interesting. A World War II medal on a World War I memorial. Two different wars.”

“We don’t know how it got there, as the plinth is quite high.

“It is quite special. Obviously, someone thought it was the best place for it, at the feet of the soldier.”

Masterton’s chief archivist Gareth Winter said he thought the medal was a British service medal, not for valour, and appears to be one issued to British troops.

Izzo now has the medal in her studio and will compile a report on her findings for Masterton District Council to consider its next steps.


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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