THE SOLDIER. It's just one line of many, the printed type faded.
It says: "16/382 Herewini Whakarua, First Maori Battalion, A Company, from Waitotara, single, occupation farmer, next of kin Mrs Whakarua [mother]."
The line comes from the Nominal Rolls of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, volume, 1914-1919.
There was nothing to distinguish the young Maori soldier from any other, heading off to fight for King and Country. But seven years after his death, Whakarua [whose name is also spelled Wakarua] was immortalised in marble, and his statue placed on top of the World War I memorial at Pakaitore/Moutoa Gardens.
Whakarua was the son of Iwiora Tamaiparea and Te Ata Whiro. He attended Wanganui Collegiate in 1911-12. Corporal Whakarua enlisted at Waitotara and left New Zealand in February 1915, and arrived in Egypt five weeks later. He served in Gallipoli in 1915 and later at the Western Front in Europe. During fighting there, he received severe wounds in the thigh and neck, from shell fire. He died in hospital on January 13, 1918, and was buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. By then he had attained the rank of sergeant major.
An anecdote published in the Hawera & Normanby Star newspaper in February 1918 notes that when war broke out, Whakarua and his father argued over which of them should go off to fight in the war. Whakarua persuaded Tamaiparea that he should go, but his father promised that if he was killed, he would himself take Whakarua's place in the war. This story may or may not be true, but Tamaiparea did indeed go to war, six months after his son was killed.
THE SCULPTOR. Very little is known about the man who is believed to have been responsible for the life-like, life-size statue of Herewini Whakarua, and there is still some mystery about who that may be. But Wanganui resident Bill Manning has always known his great-uncle Julius was the sculptor . Mr Manning's grandmother, Andrea, was the younger sister of Jensen.
Although he doesn't know the details of Jensen's birth or death, Mr Manning knows his great-uncle was a stonemason by trade, who was born in Bornholm, Denmark, and came to New Zealand in the mid-1880s with his two brothers and sister. Jensen is believed to have settled in Auckland and, although he married, he had no children.
Mr Manning says his talented great-uncle also made the war memorial statue at Wharepai Domain in Tauranga, a memorial at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland, and the headstone for his sister-in-law, Hansina Jensen, buried at Tauranga Cemetery.
As well as the Mannings, there are other relatives of Jensen - distant cousins of the Mannings - living in Wanganui."Most of the Jensen descendants are now in Tauranga," Mr Manning says.
He said the family was pleased the monument, and the statue in particular, was being restored. "Our children and grandchildren are proud to know that a relative is responsible for having created such a wonderful contribution to our city."
However, Jensen's signature cannot be found on the statue and historian Athol Kirk in his book, History Now, refers to the sculptor as being Italian.
THE MONUMENTJensen's statue of Whakarua was removed from the top of the World War I memorial on March 13, due to its precarious position. The obelisk was in such bad repair - with a major crack down the middle - that it was at risk of falling. Christchurch-based company Goldfield Stone removed the statue and it was placed in a local storage facility used by the Sarjeant Gallery. Wailing beams were placed around the obelisk to prevent any further damage and to keep the structure safe. The Pakaitore Historic Reserve Trust Board has applied for Lotteries funding to carry out full restoration of the obelisk and the statue, ahead of the 2015 centenary of the landing at Gallipoli.
Mark Whyte, from Goldfield Stone, himself a sculptor, said the statue was in "brilliant condition. The soldier's gun is broken - but not snapped off - there's spalling [flaking] in the corners of the statue and it has a good covering of lichen."
He says the statue was an extraordinary piece of work: "You can see the bone structure in the face. You'd recognise him if you saw him walking down the street."
Mr Whyte said it was the only World War I marble statue he had seen that was actually a portrait of someone. That was probably because the statue was never intended for the top of a public war memorial. After Whakarua died, his parents commissioned a marble statue for the family urupa [graveyard] at Maxwell. However, when the Maori Lady Liverpool Committee - which provided funding for the monument - discovered the existence of the statue, they asked Whakarua's family if they would donate it for the monument. The family agreed. The Wanganui Harbour Board donated the shell rock out of which the monument was made. The monument was unveiled at an Anzac Day service on April 25, 1925, by Sir Maui Pomare, and it was formally handed to the then-mayor, Hope Gibbons.
The monument contains, on its four corners, the names of the four theatres of war that the Maori Battalion fought in during World War 1 - France, Belgium, Egypt, Gallipoli. There are also four niches which originally contained glass panels behind which was placed soil from each of these four places. However, vandalism has seen the glass destroyed and the sand scattered. A plaque on the monument reads in part, in English and Maori, the words: "Maori soldiers for the first time in history, went over-seas on active service as a complete military unit."
There's also a plaque listing the names of all 17 Maori Battalion soldiers who were killed in World War I, among them - Herewini Whakarua, the young farmer from Waitotara who never came home.