In 1942-43 Paekākāriki district hosted three large camps, holding 15,000 young Americans infantrymen: Camp Mackay, Camp Paekākāriki, and Camp Russell. Their construction was a New Zealand epic, achieved in less than two months by the combined efforts of Public Works Department and Master Builders Federation.
The Marines trained on beaches, dunes, and farms between Paekākāriki and Raumati, often in dangerous conditions. They were welcomed into their homes by locals and brought new foods, manners, and sights to wartime New Zealand. Leaving these camps they sailed from Wellington to the Battle of Tarawa, where over 1000 of ‘our boys’ died and many were wounded.
The story will be told in cooperation between three groups: Paekākāriki Station Pecinct Trust, Kāpiti US Marines Trust, and Paekākāriki Community Trust. A feature will be images and films by US camera-man Norm Hatch that have never before been seen in New Zealand.
Make a day of it, viewing exhibits, walking the campsites, and enjoying delicious food from Beach Road’s cafes!
Paekākāriki Station Museum: 11am to 3pm
- Displays including two-screen presentation, The Friendly Invasion
Location: Paekākāriki Railway Station – adjacent to State Highway 1
St Peter’s Village Hall, Beach Road, Paekākāriki 11am to 3pm
- View films recently acquired from American archive.
- Hear stories about how camps were built and how men lived and trained on our beaches. The talks include ‘My Grandad, the camp commander’, ’Tarawa, then, now and in the future’, ‘Camp construction’ and ’The Friendly invasion’.
- Saturday Evening: Jazz concert (cover charge of $20), St Peters Hall, Beach Road, Paekākāriki
Location: Wellington Road, Paraparaumu
Queen Elizabeth Park, Mackay’s Crossing 11am to 3pm
- View films and displays in Ramaroa Park Centre.
- Visit US Marines Memorial.
- See how Marines lived in a restored camp hut.
Location: Whareroa Road, Paraparaumu
Whareroa Farm/Camp Mackay (daylight hours)
- Follow the heritage trail, where an easy one-hour walk in a beautiful valley takes you around key sites with information panels.
Image: In the winter of 1943, thirty-six Higgins boats from an offshore fleet south of Kāpiti Island disgorged men and weapons on Paekākāriki Beach. Tragically, in gathering darkness one craft overturned, with the loss of ten seamen. [Photo: Norm Hatch Collection, Kāpiti US Marines Trust]
No booking is required for these events.
Cost: All events are free unless otherwise stated above