The eighth object in the series is a postcard featuring a street day on August 15, 1917 to raise funds for the Belgian, Serbian and French Red Cross. The streets were lined with stalls selling produce such as eggs, meat, bread and sweets.

They sold raffle ticket and treasure bags containing coupons for coal, cushions, cheese and toys, while a line of decorated vehicles paraded through the town. This day was one of many held to raise funds for war relief in Whanganui.

After war was declared on August 4, 1914, the military and civic-minded citizens jumped into action. Men signed up for their duty at the Drill Hall in Maria Place, and civilians went into full fundraising mode, running galas and raffles and doing their bit for the boys at the front.

Individual and group efforts were all appreciated. Mr Rainey Jackson personally donated £1500 for the purchase of a fully kitted-out aeroplane for the war, and another carnival held in 1916, the year before this postcard, raised £65,899 for patriotic purposes (which equates to nearly $9 million today).


As patriotism grew, so did anti-German sentiment. The men's choir, which had been called the Liedertafel since 1898, thought the name sounded too German so changed it to the Wanganui Male Choir.

Pork butcher Conrad Heinold was the main target of a crowd that gathered in Victoria Ave on the evening of May 15. German-born Heinold had set up business in Whanganui in 1886, becoming a naturalised British subject in 1894, but was accused of anti-British sympathies and his shop windows were smashed soon after the sinking of the Lusitania.

A postcard featuring a stall at the street day held in Whanganui on August 15, 1917 to raise funds for the Red Cross. Photo / Whanganui Regional Museum
A postcard featuring a stall at the street day held in Whanganui on August 15, 1917 to raise funds for the Red Cross. Photo / Whanganui Regional Museum

By the time the war ended on November 11, 1918, Whanganui had lost 513 men. Wanting to commemorate their loss and the devastating effects of the war, talk immediately began on erecting a memorial to the soldiers.

An argument about building a cenotaph on Queens Park or a lookout tower on Durie Hill was not settled, so both were built, one by the Wanganui Borough Council, and the other by the Wanganui County Council.

The town also erected a memorial Moutoa Gardens, specifically to commemorate 17 Māori soldiers from the area who died.

Anzac Day has been celebrated locally and nationally since 1916, one year after the first ANZAC landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. These early celebrations involved a parade up Victoria Ave and an open-air service at Cooks Gardens.

By 1920, the Government had agreed to designate April 25 as an official day to commemorate the war and, by 1922, it was a full public holiday with all businesses closing as a mark of respect.

Whanganui citizens, however, had picked up the Australian practice of holding a dawn service. The early morning start reflected the time of the Gallipoli landings and mimicked the routine dawn stand-to in the trenches, with the added symbolism of the cold and dark morning being broken by a hopeful sunrise.


Liking this idea, Whanganui held New Zealand's first ever Dawn Ceremony in 1936. The rest of the country had adopted it by 1939.

Whanganui showed a great civic spirit throughout the war and afterward, supporting the troops on service and making sure they were remembered appropriately afterward. The postcard above shows the beginnings of this work.

Sandi Black is the archivist at Whanganui Regional Museum.