March over the Rimutakas – excerpt from article in issue 104

by Leo Haks and Alan Jackson

Military training took place in semi-permanent reinforcement training camps around New Zealand such as Trentham, Featherston and Tauherenikau. Of these Trentham was the main camp. By 1918 it could hold 4,500 men in huts and 2,000 more in tents. Featherston camp could hold 4,500 men in huts and 3,000 in tents, and was established in January 1916.

Infantry reinforcements spent their first five weeks at Trentham being equipped, doing drill and basic military training, and then transferred to Featherston for eight weeks for advanced training.

At the end of their training at Featherston, many of these soldiers marched back over the Rimutakas along its gravelled road. They stopped for a refreshments break at the Rimutaka Road Summit and bivouacked overnight near Kaitoke (and some reinforcements a second time at Mangaroa Valley) before arrival at Trentham Camp.

It was a journey of approximately 34 kilometres and was often photographed for postcard souvenirs. Prominent photographers whose work included images of the camps, or the Rimutaka marches include; Bickerton, Henry Brett, James Henry Daroux, Allan Mackenzie and Luther Mence.


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