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Communities remember World War One : Memorials of the Manawatu District

Over the past two and a half years Peter Olsen has been slowly working his way around our district locating rural Memorials, and where necessary, giving them a good cleanup, and if needed a redo of the inscriptions.  Sixteen stone and granite obelisks, eight gateways, and thirty-three wooden board memorials were found.  The district mentioned is from Ruahine in the north to Rangiotu in the south, and from the Rangitikei River to the Ranges.

Four of the obelisks have been moved, two others damaged, and two of the boards lost through fire.  Most of the boards have been in schools or community halls, though with the closure of schools over the years some have become centralised.  When the remedial work has been done, and now with a greater interest being shown toward them, Peter believes they will stand the test of time ......

Acknowledging the 100 years since WW1, this project is seen as a small tribute to all who served there.  The resulting 72 page book is now available for sale with all proceeds generously donated to the Feilding & Districts Community Archive.   Go to our Sales page for more information ......

Manchester Block 140th Anniversary of Settlement

2014 is the 140th anniversary of the settlement of the Manchester Block and to mark the occasion Feilding Districts & Community Archive is running a project which asks residents of the area to send in information on their families to the archive by completing family registers. This information will become a research resource for future generations. 

The first settlers came on organised shipping schedules and were the initial pool of pioneers to settle the Manawatu area.  Further settlers came on different immigration schemes and also settled in this area after 1874. Settlement continued into the 1900s as areas outside the township of Feilding were purchased, surveyed and large farm blocks sub-divided.  Then there are the ongoing ‘settlers’ to Feilding who arrive from various parts of New Zealand and the world and who now acknowledge this area as their settlement of choice.

Click on the appropriate link to download the form, save it to your PC, complete it at your leisure, save it again and email it to FDCA by clicking on this link and attaching the document.

Pioneer Settler's Register

For individuals and families who settled in Feilding on or before
31 December 1899

Family Settler's Register

For individuals or families who settled in Feilding from 1 January 1900
through until the present day

If your computer or tablet doesn't support the format of these forms (MS Word), download pdf copies using the links below, hand fill them in and post them to 'The Manchester Block Project, FDCA, PO Box 42, Feilding.

Pioneer Settler's Register.pdf

Family Settler's Register.pdf

A Silent Tribute to Those Who Served

There are many photographs already held at the Feilding & Districts Community Archive of young men from Feilding and surrounding farming areas who headed off to the various war zones of World War 1. When conserving and cataloguing photographs of these young men, volunteers at the archive often research the pictures and make connections between those who returned, their families, and the part they played in the ongoing development of our community.

Most soldiers had a formal or studio photograph taken of themselves in uniform before they headed off. Such formal photos of the young men in uniform sometimes included a family group, friends or sweethearts. For our World War 1 remembrance project, Feilding & District Community Archives is planning a silent digital presentation of photographs of our local men to be screened in the theatrette in the Coach House Museum.

We need your help! We need as many of these photos as we can lay our hands on. We’d like people to dig out those old albums and biscuit boxes and find those photos that are tucked away in many of our homes. Either the original photo (on loan if preferred) or a high resolution digital scan is required as photocopies will not be of suitable quality. Archive staff can help to convert the original photographs for computer use if needed.  

Include the name(s) of the person or persons in the photo, printed clearly on the form provided (see link below), and drop them off at the reception desk of the Coach House Museum marked for delivery to the “FDCA WW1 Project”, or email them to archives@feildingarchive.org before the end of February 2015.  If you wish the photograph returned, please include your name and mailing address, or alternatively gift the photograph to the community archive collection. 

Help us to create a small tribute to all those local lads who served in the Great War, and to their families who waited anxiously for them to come safely home.

WW1 Project Form

News from the Front

Private J. M. O'Grady

Private James Michael O'Grady (Auckland Battalion, killed in action) was a son of Mrs O'Grady of Main Street West, Palmerston North.  He was 26 years of age, and was born at Taikorea in the Foxton district, and educated at the Taikorea public school.  Two years ago he went to Auckland province and settled in the Bay of Islands district where he was employed when hostilities broke out. He was among the first to offer his services to his country, and joined the Auckland Infantry Battalion which trained in Auckland. In order that his enlistment might not come as too great a shock to his mother, Private O'Grady enlisted in the name of Hurley, his mother's maiden name, and did not acquaint her of his action until after the force left New Zealand since which time he had written regularly. In one of his letters he stated that he had enlisted because he considered it was his duty to fight for his country and that he would not remain in New Zealand and be called a shirker.  Private O'Grady went to the Dardanelles with the First Expeditionary Force and took part in the severe fighting that ensued after the landing on April 25th. and being wounded was placed in hospital in Cairo, where he had to undergo an operation as the result of his wound.  Making a quick recovery, he returned to the front on May 6th and a month later, on June 2nd, was killed in action.

Source:  O'Grady Press, 2 August 1915 (page 10)


Yet another Feilding name has to be added to the Roll of Honour, Lieut. George Webster being reported killed in action in France on August 24.  George was the second son of Mr G. J. Webster, a former Borough Engineer here.  He was educated in Feilding, and in the year 1909 was dux of the District High School.  Upon leaving school he joined the staff of the N.Z. Loan and Mercantile Agency Company here, being afterwards transferred to Palmerston.  He sailed in June 1917 with the 26th Reinforcements as 2nd Lieutenant.  Mrs Sidney Fisher, of Feilding, is a sister.  Previous to the war, George was a promising young cricketer, a good sport, and pleasurable companion.  There are many boys and older boys in this district who will deeply sympathise with the relatives.

Source: Feilding Star, 10 September 1918



Restoring the Colonel

Held in pride of place within the archive is a painting of Feilding's namesake, William Henry Adelbert Feilding (son of the 7th Earl of Denbigh), and steps are being taken to restore the portrait and its interesting frame.

General The Honourable William Feilding was a British soldier serving with the Coldstream Guards.  He served in the Crimean War and was British commissioner to the French Army during the Franco-Prussian War.    In 1871, as a Colonel and Director of the Emigrants and Colonists Aid Corporation, he was selected to travel to both Australia and New Zealand looking at blocks of land suitable for their proposed emigration scheme for the labouring classes.

Finding offerings in Queensland not to his taste, he sailed to New Zealand and within a short time journeyed to Foxton where he met Arthur Halcombe and the two of them travelled inland to the Manawatu for a look at land the New Zealand Government had for sale.  Back in Wellington on 20 December 1871 an agreement was reached to purchase 106,000 acres for 75,000 pounds and the recruiting of emigrants in England began.

The Colonel came back to visit the new settlement of Feilding in 1875.  Immigrants had been arriving for a year, and life had been struggle for them - not the rolling green fields they had been expecting with a wet winter adding to their woes.  However, when (now General) Feilding made his next visit in 1895, great progress had been made and he was able to view a thriving settlement.

Unfortunately, General Feilding died of cholera in Bangkok on his way back to England, and is buried in the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery.






Feilding & Districts is a dedicated repository for the area's history.
If you have any historical documents or photographs about this area or its people,
please consider donating them to the FDCA.