The Kapiti United States Marines Trust invites you to celebrate the installation of:

Camp Paekakariki interpretation site opening

Tuesday 14 June 2022 at 12 Midday

Enter the site via the northern end of Wellington Road Paekakariki (past the Paekakariki Holiday Park).

The event will finish at 1.00 pm. RSVP to alliewebber@outlook.com

In case of rain the event will be held at 12 Midday Tuesday 21 June. See this site for details.

New WWII U.S. Marines Camp interpretation site to open

18.5.2022

Eighty years after the ‘friendly invasion’ of US Armed forces in New Zealand from 1942-44, the U.S.-Kiwi relationship will be celebrated with the opening of a new ‘interpretation site’ in Paekākāriki on June 14.

On this same day in 1942, the US 1st Marine Division arrived in Wellington aboard the USS Wakefield. After leaving the ship, they boarded a train to Paekākāriki, where they disembarked and marched into camp, departing six weeks later for the bloody Guadalcanal campaign in the Solomon Islands.

The Trust acknowledges Ngati Haumia as mana whenua and is grateful to have the opportunity to build the new Camp Paekākāriki interpretation site on what was formerly their land. The site tells the story of Marines based at the camp during WWII. It also shares stories from local residents, including the Marines Māori Mum Jean Andrews and several residents who were primary school children at the time.

The site is situated at the southern boundary of Queen Elizabeth Park, at the northern end of Wellington Road in Paekākāriki on Ngati Haumia land taken by the crown. It includes a dramatic 10 metre long palisade made of 34 corten steel fins supporting seven interpretation panels, each 1.3 meters high. Effectively, it is an outdoor gallery, designed to blend in with the local environment and tell the story of the camp with text and photographs.

Some of the photographs are sourced from the never-seen-before “Norm Hatch Collection” recently acquired from NARA (the National Archives in Washington) and the US Marine Corps Archives in Quantico, Virginia by the Kāpiti US Marines Trust (KUSMT) and local film maker Steve La Hood.

An aerial photograph from 1943 identifies the main features of the camp and helps Paekakariki residents see an earlier history of their properties.

Camp Paekākāriki has been an important project for KUSMT planned over four years and delayed by Covid. It has been made possible by generous grants from the Embassy of the United States of America in Wellington and the Paekākāriki Services Trust.

The project has been managed by KUSMT historian, Anthony Dreaver with professional assistance from: Pukerua Bay graphic designer, Anne Johnston; Riverbank Engineering (Otaki), Baseline Consulting Engineers (Levin) and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The Trust is grateful for mahi from Ngati Haumia Kaumatua Karl Farrell and is also indebted to Anthony Dreaver for research, writing and photographic selection and pays tribute to the late John Porter (former KUSMT trustee and Paekākāriki resident) for his early enthusiasm for the project.

The opening of the site will complete a series of public story-telling projects the Trust has instigated over the past ten years, including: the ‘Friend in Need’ exhibition at the Paekākāriki Station Museum, the upgrade of the US Marines Memorial and installation of the Sailors’ Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park, the opening of the US Marines Walkway in Whareroa Farm and the restoration of a WWII US Marines Hut.

Trust Chair, Richard Benge says “The completion of the Camp Paekākāriki interpretation site now enables local, regional and international visitors to visit Kāpiti and take a comprehensive tour around all three former camp sites, to learn how the Marines lived and trained and how local people were impacted between 1942-44”.

Members of the public are invited to the formal opening of the site at 12noon on Tuesday June 14. Please dress warmly and visit this website for a wet weather cancellation.

For more information contact: Allison (Allie) Webber – M.021 465 678 or

Anthony Dreaver – M. 0210 257 9171