The Featherston Camp Centenary Exhibition will be opening in three weeks at Aratoi Museum of Art and History in Masterton.

Aratoi director Alice Hutchison said the Featherston Military Training Camp in Wairarapa tells a story that is of national importance and she hopes to "wow" visitors with the monumental exhibition.

"The camp was a living embodiment of the New Zealand military establishment, charged with turning raw recruits into real soldiers," she said.

"To that end, camp authorities had the heavy responsibility of not only putting soldiers through a rigorous training regime, but of ensuring that they were cared for physically, mentally and spiritually."


Featherston Camp is a registered Heritage New Zealand Category 1 Historic Place and is part of a landscape of military training sites which extends from the Hutt Valley to the Wairarapa. Ms Hutchison said the original site has outstanding importance as one of New Zealand's few military training camps which, together with Trentham in Upper Hutt, trained the majority of embarked forces during World War I.

"The camp is also historically significant for the high number of deaths associated with the influenza pandemic of 1918, which was particularly devastating among soldiers accommodated in crowded military camps," she said.

The exhibition will be opened by South Wairarapa District Mayor Adrienne Staples on January 22 and will be open to the public on January 23. It was developed by Aratoi and Wairarapa Archive, and made possible by support from Lands Trust Masterton, Wellington Regional Amenities Fund, Eastern & Central Community Trust, South Wairarapa District Council, Trust House, The Friends of Aratoi, Aratoi Foundation and Greytown Trust Lands Trust.