Featherston Military Training Camp

State Highway 2 (Featherston-Greytown), FEATHERSTON

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The site of the Featherston Military Training Camp (1916-1918) and Prisoner of War Camp (1942-1945) in the Wairarapa is of outstanding historical significance. The construction of the Military Training Camp was an undertaking unparalleled anywhere in Australasia, and its scale embodies the extent of New Zealand’s commitment to fight in an overseas war. The camp is rare as one of the few locations in New Zealand used as both a Military Training Camp and a Prisoner of War Camp, and few places can lend themselves to telling the story of New Zealand’s war efforts in such detail. The physical remains of the camp are of high archaeological significance, reflected by the 2011 declaration of parts of the camp as an archaeological site. The symbolic and commemorative values are demonstrated by the memorials and plantings in the council reserve opposite the main entrance to the camp, which include international links with Belgium and Japan. Human settlement of the Wairarapa dates from the mid-fourteenth century. Featherston was the site of a small Māori settlement known as Paetumokai, and the establishment of the Featherston township dates from 1856. Shortly after the start of World War One, it became apparent that additional soldier training facilities would be required, and a site near the township was chosen. The wider camp covered an area of over 750 hectares. Over 1000 workers supervised by the Public Works Department took under a year to construct accommodation for over 6,500 men as well as stabling for 500 horses. The finished camp included chapels, social facilities, commercial shops and a post office, as well as extensive medical facilities. Over 60,000 men passed through Featherston Camp, and the Featherston and Trentham Camps combined trained approximately two-thirds of New Zealand’s embarked forces in World War One. During the 1918 influenza pandemic, Featherston Camp was one of the worst afflicted areas in New Zealand. The 163 reported deaths included trainee soldiers and medical staff. The camp was reused in World War Two as New Zealand’s largest prisoner of war camp. It became notorious in February 1943 when New Zealand guards opened fire on Japanese prisoners, resulting in 49 deaths, including the only death of a soldier on active service on New Zealand soil.

Featherston Military Training Camp. 25 yard rifle range wall. February 2011 | A Dodd | Heritage New Zealand
Featherston Military Training Camp. Ref. No. 1/2-104281-F. Part of Tyndall, Arthur (Sir), 1891-1979 :Photographs relating to road and building construction (PAColl-0866). Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
Featherston Military Training Camp. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Licence. Image courtesy of Archives New Zealand (Ref AEGA 18982, PC41593, R18288348) | Archives New Zealand



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

2nd February 2015

Date of Effect

3rd March 2015

City/District Council

South Wairarapa District


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes all of the land described as Sec 571 Featherston SBRN (RT WN891/11), Sec 575 Featherston SBRN (RT WN35A/749), Sec 1 SO 31482 and Lot 1 DP 80365 (RT WN47A/102; NZ Gazette 2006, pp. 4849-4850), and part of the land described as Lot 2 DP 16154 (RT WN823/94), Lot 2 DP 375572 (RT 345170), Lot 1 DP 427608 (RT 509235), Lot 1 DP 319740 (RT 77818) and Lot 2 DP 29316 (RT WN6A/537), Wellington Land District. It includes the brick rifle range wall on the boundary of Sec 571 Featherston SBRN and Lot 2 DP 161154, and the memorials located on the south side of State Highway 2. It includes the land designated as legal road, comprising the adjoining parts of State Highway 2 and Camp Road. It includes the water races which follow the alignment shown on Featherston Camp General Plan PWD42440 located on the sections described above, but does not include the water races outside this area (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

Legal description

Sec 575 Featherston SBRN (RT WN35A/749), Sec 571 Featherston SBRN (RT WN891/11), Pt Lot 2 DP 16154 (RT WN823/94), Lot 2 DP 29316 (RT WN6A/537), Lot 2 DP 375572 (RT 345170), Lot 1 DP 427608 (RT 509235), Lot 1 DP 319740 (RT 77818), Lot 1 DP 80365, Sec 1 SO 31482 (RT WN47A/102; NZ Gazette 2006, pp. 4849-4850), Legal Road, Wellington Land District

Location Description

Featherston Military Training Camp is located between Featherston and the Tauherenikau River, approximately 1.3 kilometres east of the town boundary. The camp extent comprises approximately 80 hectares of land on both sides of State Highway 2. The former prisoner of war camp is identified as 1313 State Highway 2, but the majority of the remaining lots that make up the military training camp have no street number. A central grid reference, given on the NZAA Archsite record is NZTM E1797924 N5445439.

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