Paying tribute to lives lost in the Featherston Incident

27 February 2020

On Tuesday 25 February, New Zealanders and Japanese united at the Memorial Gardens in Featherston, just off SH2, to remember the 49 people who lost their lives in the Featherston Incident in 1943. Forty-eight Japanese prisoners of war and one New Zealand guard died, and a further 63 prisoners were injured.

A similar event occurred at a POW camp in Cowra, Australia, about a year later, where 235 people lost their lives. These two tragic events have resulted in a special bond between the two towns, which was made official with a Twinning Agreement in 1999.

Moving speeches from the Japanese Ambassador Mr Hiroyasu Kobayashu, South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Bejien and Australian High Commissioner Patricia Forsythe, representing Cowra, reflected on the tragedy of wartime, the role of cultural differences back then, and the close relationships that exist now between all three countries.

The commemorative event was also attended by Alistair Scott MP, SWDC councillors and community board members, representatives from Chor Farmer and JNL, Reverend Philippa Young, and students from Kurinui College and Rathkeale College. Wreaths were laid at the New Zealand and Japanese memorials, including from local community groups - the Featherston RSA, Featherston ANZAC Club, Featherston Heritage Museum, and the Japanese Society Wellington.

More photos available on Facebook.

South Wairarapa District Council