First it was the ship’s bell – now a monument dedicated to World War 1 hospital ship Maheno is to be placed in the township it was named after.
The rusted hull of the ship, which evacuated wounded from Gallipoli during the war, lies at Fraser Island, where it was wrecked during a cyclone in 1935.
In 2015 and last year, pupils and staff from Maheno School, where the ship’s original bell is on display, travelled to the island for its Anzac Day commemorations.
On the island is a memorial to the ship – a bronze plaque mounted on a large rock and supported by a plinth, which features information on the ship and those who served on it.
Maheno School principal Ryan Fraser said plans were in place for a replica of the memorial to be installed at Maheno’s war memorial near the school, on a grassed area to the right-hand side of the arch that led to the cenotaph.
He said the idea was first discussed during the school’s first trip to Fraser Island with Russell Postle, of a Brisbane Rotary club, who helped organise the commemorations, and Chris Seed, the New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia.
“The initial thought was to have a replica at the school on a site here, but I was not sure the school was the right place. It’s a wee bit bigger than the school .. it’s more of a community thing than a school thing.”
The project had the support of the Waitaki District Council and external funders, but the school would have to raise funds to cover some of the costs.
“It will happen, but it’s when it will happen,” Mr Fraser said.
“The timeline is to have it unveiled on Armistice Day, which will be 100 years since the end of World War 1. It’s kind of cool .. because the first time we went to see the Maheno was 2015, 100 years since the Gallipoli landings.”