Photos reveal tributes to fallen soldiers

By Andrew Bonallack -
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EXHIBIT: Inset, Masterton is included in an exhibition featuring WWI memorials honouring fallen Anzac soldiers, photographed by Laurence Aberhart.
EXHIBIT: Inset, Masterton is included in an exhibition featuring WWI memorials honouring fallen Anzac soldiers, photographed by Laurence Aberhart.

Masterton's soldiers' Last Anzac memorial features in a photographic exhibition featuring World War I memorials, opening in Canterbury Museum on Thursday.

New Zealand photographer Laurence Aberhart has been photographing WWI memorials that include a single figure, across New Zealand and Australia, for more than three decades.

As with all his work, Aberhart shot the exhibition photographs with an old-fashioned view camera using long exposures and available light.

Canterbury museum's communications manager, in response to a query from the Times-Age, went searching through the exhibition and reported back that Masterton's cenotaph, in Queen Elizabeth Park, was among those featured.

She said that was fortunate, as she knew of a prominent single-figure statue in Christchurch that hadn't made the cut of 60 prints.

Aberhart told the Times-Age that because of the large variety of memorials, he chose to concentrate on soldier figure memorials "or, as our Australian cousins refer to them, 'Digger memorials'.

"The Masterton memorial is the only one in Wairarapa that is of the soldier."

Masterton's cenotaph was constructed in 1923 and displays the names of the fallen from WWI.

Later, casualties from WWII were added, plus notifications that New Zealand has served in the Korean, Malaysian, Vietnam and Gulf War conflicts.

Wairarapa Archive war historian Neil Frances said the statue was designed by Frank Lynch and was named The Last Anzac.

"Lynch was actually an Australian, but raised in New Zealand.

"He and his brother Joseph established a studio in Auckland, and the statue is modelled on Joseph."

Mr Frances said there was an identical statue at the Devonport War Memorial in Auckland, but "nowhere near as impressive, the Devonport one is at eye level. It doesn't have the gravitas of ours."

The display was created by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery as part of the World War I centenary commemorations.

Museum director Anthony Wright says Aberhart's work is particularly thought-provoking and relevant in the lead-up to Anzac Day.

"These war memorials stand across both our countries as symbolic and moving tributes to those who sacrificed their lives in the wars of the 20th century and are powerful reminders of the massive casualties of war," he said.

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