Emotions welled as a tribute to Hastings’ fallen soldiers was blessed and played for the first time for Returned Services Association members in Civic Square on Tuesday evening.
The light installation projected onto the Hastings and District War Memorial features falling poppies and the World War I and World War II Hastings rolls of honour, the latter accompanied by the Last Post. It also features a purple poppy, the international symbol recognising the animals used to assist troops in wars, including horses, donkeys, dogs and homing pigeons.
The installation is playing in the early mornings and evenings from now until ANZAC Day, on Monday April 25.
On Tuesday, veterans Broughton Tomlins and Gerald Turau, Clubs Hastings (incorporating RSA Hastings) president David Holmes, Hastings RSA ladies returned veterans representative Sandra McQuillan, and Dolly the War Horse Trust founding trustee Selwyn Hawthorne were among those at the blessing, presided over by kaumatua Jerry Hapuku and Hastings District councillor Geraldine Travers.
Mr Holmes said seeing the installation live was “incredibly sombre and emotional”.
“It is an incredibly moving and beautifully fitting tribute to our fallen soldiers, and it is also a wonderful spectacle. I encourage everyone to take half an hour in the evening to see it.”
Councillor Geraldine Travers welcomed the guests on behalf of Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst. The daughter of returned serviceman the late Richard Travers, Mrs Travers described the installation as “evocative, moving, and very respectful”.
“Particularly, the names of our fallen scrolling down the exterior of the library have a quiet dignity and strength that is difficult to describe but is palpable as you view them.”
The 18m tall installation is a reminder that the Hastings library was commissioned as the Hastings and District War Memorial Library. Its entryway is the Hall of Memories, which includes the names of Hastings’ fallen soldiers from World War I and World War II, plaques acknowledging New Zealand service in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam, a mural by renowned war artist Peter McIntyre, and a bust of one of Hawke’s Bay’s most famous returned servicemen, Sir Andrew Russell.
Hastings District Council commissioned the tribute, which is best viewed during the hours of darkness (5am to 7am and 6pm to midnight).
21 April 2022
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