Livingstone couple Sara and Patrick McCunnie have refused to let an Anzac memorial fade with time and their work to preserve its honour continues.
The memorial sat tucked away on an idyllic hill in Livingstone, west of Oamaru, its base buckled and inscriptions deteriorating.
The 2ha property was once home to Livingstone’s old school house, but only the original teacher’s quarters remained.
When Mr and Mrs McCunnie bought the property 15 years ago, it was in disrepair.
Upon its purchase, Mrs McCunnie became the custodian of the school’s old documents and the local cemetery records.
“[The memorial] was put here because of the school,” she said
“[But] over the course of time the memorial just fell apart.”
When Anzac Day swung around each year the McCunnies held their own informal Anzac ceremony, placing a flower by the memorial and sharing a few words.
It soon grew into an annual community ceremony.
Neighbours and friends would bring a pot luck morning tea, make speeches and pay their respects.
“It lasts for hours.”
Mrs McCunnie said one neighbour would even bring their horse in honour of service animals.
“It’s a really nice way to bring the community together, ” she said.
“Everybody’s welcome to lay a poppy or a wreath.”
She has maintained the memorial over the years, tending to the weeds that sprouted from its cracked concrete base.
But there was only so much she could do to preserve it as the inscriptions deteriorated and the soldiers’ names could no longer be read.
Things turned around for the memorial when Mrs McCunnie met New Zealand Remembrance Army member Barry Gamble.
Bringing army graves out of obscurity and into the light was Mr Gamble’s passion.
And so the McCunnies and Mr Gamble began the memorial’s restoration and the correction of Private Alexander Kennedy’s inscription.
Pte Kennedy was a machine gunner in World War 1. He was killed in action on July 18, 1916.
For his bravery behind his gun in France, Pte Kennedy was given a Russian Medal of St George Third Class. He was one of only seven New Zealanders to receive it.
He was one of five soldiers memorialised on the Livingstone property, but his award was written incorrectly.
As the restoration project manager, Mr Gamble organised funding from the Waitaki District Council to have a entirely new inscription piece installed and the base re-concreted.
The new memorial would have laser etching, so the next restorer down the line would have an easier job, he said.