Featherston Camp Sculpture Trust is fundraising to build a nationally significant sculpture to remember the Featherston Military Training Camp and its historic relationship with the town.
Featherston Military Training Camp was active between 1915 and 1926. During this time the camp hosted over 60,000 troops who subsequently served overseas in WW1. The camp operated with the objective to turn ‘raw recruits’ into real soldiers: with signallers, artillery and machine-gun specialists all training there.
The impact of the camp on the local Featherston township, population 700 when war broke out, was significant. Troops were a familiar sight around the town seeking food and entertainment. Resourceful locals acted as a taxi service between the camp and the township. As one soldier wrote:
“In Featherston there are two hotels. Before the war they were quiet, country hostelries. Now they are crowded nightly, but with sober, orderly men.”
As the camp grew, and the fighting overseas continued, the town swelled five-fold to 3,500 residents. The majority of the industry in the township, and civic life itself, centred on its relationship with the camp.
It is important to the Featherston Camp Sculpture Trust not to build another war memorial, but to revive the memory of the camp and remember its role in the region’s history. Also the sculpture commemorates the vital role that Featherston played in New Zealand’s international war effort, with one third of NZ troops serving overseas having spent time at the camp.
The sculpture has been incorporated into the Council’s town plan and is to be placed in the town square.Internationally renowned sculptor Paul Dibble has been commissioned to create the large-scale public work, which will consist of 8-10 bronze columns, with images of soldiers, cavalry and the camp on one side, and personal letters, names and places on the reverse.
The Trust currently has $20,000 left to fundraise, in order to have raised a third of the total project cost, before approaching the Lottery Grants Board to fund the balance.
Nikau Foundation contributed $5,000 in the recent 2016 funding round to support this initiative.