Matangi poppy tree blossoms


A poppy tree has blossomed in Matangi in time for Anzac Day thanks to a local team of enthusiastic knitters.

Faye Douglas, left, and Evelyn van Ommen help install the Matangi poppies

One tree in a Waikato-wide project to decorate trees throughout the district, Matangi’s poppy tree provides a place to remember the devastation of war and all those affected by it.

Locals are welcome to attach a poppy or message of their own.

The decoration of the tree, in the Jack Foster Reserve on Matangi Road beside St David’s Church and the Matangi School, has highlighted for those involved that there is no Roll of Honour of Matangi people who served in World War 1 although there is for those who served in World War 2. The latter record is in the Matangi Hall.

“Now seems to be an ideal opportunity to create such a record for our area,” said Faye Douglas, President of the Matangi Garden Club, one of those involved in creating the poppy tree.

The task of researching and verifying the names of those from Matangi who served in WW1 has begun. It’s hoped locals will support the effort in order to create an accurate list, and capture the stories of the soldiers and their families.

Matangi 1914

By 1914 Matangi was a busy farming area with a railway station, school, Post Office and dairy factory – a typical rural area from which many young men signed up or were conscripted to serve in far off lands.

Most of those who joined from Matangi were farmers or worked on farms. Other occupations included analytical chemist, boxmaker, butcher, cheesemaker, engineer, fitter, mechanic and platelayer.

A list of those who served has been compiled from research by Eris Parker of the Cambridge Museum and from access to records provided by the New Zealand Defence Force, the Auckland and Waikato Museums, and in consultation with some local families.

It is not complete as not everyone signed up in the same place, and records do not always include place of residence and occupation.

As an illustration, William Ranstead, a Matangi farmer, signed up when he was in London. According to the Te Ara, the encyclopaedia of NZ, he served in the medical corps in Gallipoli with his sons.

A roll of honour was first suggested in 1916 and recorded in the Waikato Times on December 29 that year.

It was a time Matangi was farewelling four men to military camp and two on their final leave. The story in the Waikato Times read:

“Regret has been expressed in many quarters that a record has not been kept of all the boys who have gone from the district to help the Empire in her need. It is not too late to remedy this, and I suggest the placing of a tablet in our new school with the names inscribed. The following are among those who have gone: Ranstead (4), Rowe (3), McClennan (2), Thomas (2), Mudford (2), Holloway. Sutherland, Ticklepenny, Bell, De Ville, Murray, King, Coghlan, Corrigan, Campbell, Phillips, Cranston. Elliott, McLaig, Libeau, Mitchell, McWilliams, Burns, Shepherd, Bowyer Hamil. Hinton, Snow, Marychurch, Gray, Smith, Ballinger, Kennedy, Wright, Robinson, Tyler and Thompson.”

The following is the full list of WW1 Matangi servicemen compiled so far (PDF): World War 1 Service – Matangi

To offer information please contact Faye Douglas 829-5799, or Kitty Burton, 829-5806,

If you want to know more about your own family involvement in WW1 or have information or comment you wish to offer or to add to the public records you may search and contribute to the following websites:

Waikato: For us they fell
Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph for all NZ
Cambridge Museum
Advice on WW1 research

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