Hamilton City pays homage to hero

Sapper Horace Moore-Jones was honoured today when a city cul-de-sac was renamed.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae launched 'Sapper Moore-Jones Place' - the former Marlborough Place at the southern boundary of the former Hamilton Hotel site.

Acclaimed Anzac soldier artist Sapper Horace Moore-Jones, known for his 'Man with the Donkey' Gallipoli painting, was named a Hamilton hero and commemorated with the street naming in a ceremony being attended by Moore-Jones' descendants from Auckland, Tauranga and Australia, plus the son of Richard Henderson, the field medic from Waihi memorialised in the famous Anzac painting.

Hamilton's TOTI Trust called for the name change to mark the centennial of Gallipoli and the World War 1 (2014-15) which coincides with the city's 150th anniversary as a military settlement in the Waikato War (1863-64).

Moore-Jones was Hamilton High School's first art master.

He died heroically 90 years ago rescuing others from an early morning fire that destroyed the former Hamilton Hotel and took two other lives.

A guest in the hotel, Moore-Jones twice returned to the fire - the worst in Hamilton's history.

The coroner concluded he could have saved his own life "but hearing the cries of women in distress he went back to their aid, and sending them on to the balcony, again went back to carry on his rescue work. Later he was found on the roof of the building next door, and had to be lifted down by members of the fire brigade."

He died shortly after in Waikato Hospital.

The Hamilton Hotel was rebuilt in 1923. In the heart of the city's cafe and bar zone, it is now classified a heritage site.

Moore-Jones was among the first Anzac soldiers ashore in the disastrous April, 1915 landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula now commemorated as Anzac Day.

The Allies had no reliable maps and Moore-Jones crawled behind enemy lines to provide precise battlefield sketches of enemy positions and terrain to guide gunners and plan defence.

His Gallipoli paintings followed, with a London exhibition in 1916. His watercolour of a field medic with a donkey carrying a wounded soldier to safety an enduring Anzac became symbol of courage.

A 100-year-old 16th Waikato Regimental flag from Gallipoli, now owned by Hamilton Gallipoli historian Richard Stowers, will be used for the commemorative unveiling by the Governor-General.

Waikato Museum will exhibit Moore-Jones' century-old korowai, presented to him by Te Arawa socialite and scholar Maggie (Makereti) Papakura in London in 1912. The woven kiwi feather clock was gifted in thanks for his support for her concert party, in England for King George V's Coronation and Festival of Empire.

The museum will also exhibit its own Moore-Jones' Anzac painting, one of its collection of eight works.

As part of the street event, Hamilton Boys High students performed extracts from local writer Campbell Smith's play about Moore-Jones' heroic death, written for last year's high school centennial.

There was also a free performance of the play at Waikato Museum this afternoon.

There is general agreement that New Zealand's sense of nationhood arose from the bloody battlefields of Gallipoli, along with the term Anzacs and the concept of the Anzac Spirit.

Statue Approval

Hamilton City Council has given approval for a Moore-Jones commemorative statue. TOTI Trust will now call for artist interest, with installation planned by Anzac Day, 2014.

National arts veteran Hamish Keith is the project art adviser. TOTI chair Dr Bill McArthur says locals are already referring to Anzac Corner and the plan is to marshal Anzac Day parades at this point now the Army Drill Hall is long-gone from Knox St.

McArthur recalls the Anzac expression, 'We will remember', and says Kiwis can re-engage with "great characters and great stories from our past" to mark the significant set of anniversaries ahead 2013-2015 of World War 1, Gallipoli, Waikato and Hamilton. "Horace Moore-Jones is an example to impress young and old," says McArthur.

- Hamilton News

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