Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial

Main Street, Pahiatua

  • Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 10/08/2010.
  • Southwest/inscription face of memorial.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 10/08/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 4025 Date Entered 15th April 2011 Date of Effect 15th April 2011


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Parcel ID is 4085840, Wellington Land District and the structure known as the Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Tararua District


Horizons (Manawatū-Whanganui) Region

Legal description

The median strip has no legal description. Parcel ID is 4085840, Wellington Land District

Location description

The memorial is located in one of the Main Street squares/median strips in central Pahiatua: the second square when approaching from the south, between the Huia/Kiwi Street and Mangahao Road/Princess Street intersections. The memorial is in the middle of the square, opposite 128 Main Street.


This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is the original information considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration. Information in square brackets indicates modifications made after the paper was considered by the NZHPT Board.

The Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial is a simple granite obelisk monument located in central business area of the northern Wairarapa rural service town of Pahiatua. Constructed in [1921-1922] to commemorate the bravery of this well-known ex-resident, the memorial is in one of Pahiatua’s distinctive Main Street squares.

European settlement in the Wairarapa was gradual and began from the south after lengthy negotiations between the Crown and iwi in the early 1850s. Founded in the early 1880s after local landowners subdivided their land to provide town sections, Pahiatua quickly rose to become the main service town in the district despite the early setback of the railway by-passing the town. When Pahiatua was planned Main Street was made three times the width usually required in order for the rail reserve to run down its centre. When this extra space became surplus the County Council decided to create recreational ‘squares’ in the large median strip. This high profile location was a perfect place for commemorative structures like that in honour of Kenneth Anderson Bayne. Bayne had only lived in the Pahiatua area for a short period prior to World War One. However he was reputedly very popular and well-known mainly because of his sporting achievements. Bayne died on the voyage home from World War One in late 1916 whilst trying to save a toddler who had fallen overboard. Bayne had been injured during the Gallipoli campaign and public sentiment led to the construction of a memorial in his honour, which remains to this day despite controversial opposition from Pahiatua’s mayor [just before] it was erected.

The memorial has a prominent location as the central focal point of one of the six park areas in the centre of Pahiatua’s Main Street. Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial is a small and simple dignified granite obelisk with concrete steps at its base and little ornamentation. The inscription is incised into the stone and occupies the southwest face of the structure.

The Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial has local significance because it is a monument to one of the Pahiatua area’s favourite ex-residents whose heroic actions on the return journey from World War One meant he came to epitomise the virtues extolled about New Zealand soldiers during that conflict. It also has social significance because, like dedicated war memorials, it was an important place for the community to focus their grief and honour those who never returned from war.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Kenneth Anderson Bayne was a well-known former resident of the Pahiatua area, and to many his selfless act in trying to save a toddler who had fallen overboard must have been emblematic of his and his fellow ANZACs earlier gallantry at Gallipoli, during which Bayne was severely injured and as such was returning to New Zealand. The outrage following imprudently derisive comments regarding Bayne’s actions from Mayor Wilson, who eventually became Pahiatua’s longest serving mayor, reinforced the dead man’s heroic reputation and legacy locally.

Social Significance or Value:

This memorial has local social importance because it provided a point, in the absence of a grave, for people to grieve and honour a man who had fought and been badly wounded in World War One and then lost his life on the return journey. Therefore, although this memorial is dedicated to an individual who was not on active service when he died, the Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial has social resonance because it is closely associated with the pride and anguish that local communities in New Zealand felt throughout World War One which lead to the construction of hundreds of memorials during and in the aftermath of that war.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

Although not a dedicated World War One monument, this memorial is closely associated with a representative aspect of New Zealand history; the collective outpouring of grief New Zealanders demonstrated as a result of losses during that war, which manifest itself through the construction of hundreds of memorials.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

Because of its position in Pahiatua’s central green space this community initiated project, the Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial, is a local landmark and its continued maintenance shows public respect for the monument.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

Despite being dedicated to an individual, the Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial has broader significance and symbolic value because locally Bayne became the archetype of a heroic New Zealand World War One soldier and his memorial was a place to commemorate men like him who never returned from that war.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, e, and h.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is the original information considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration. Information in square brackets indicates modifications made after the paper was considered by the NZHPT Board.

The discovery and settlement of the Wairarapa region is connected with several prominent figures of New Zealand’s history. Ancestral figures such as Hau-nui-a-nanaia, Kupe, Whatonga, Tara Ika and Toi have all been said to have connections with the region and are responsible for the naming of many of the Wairarapa’s features and places. It has been estimated that Rangitane settled in the region by about the sixteenth century. Marriage links with Rangitane saw a group of Ngati Kahungunu retreat to the Wairarapa in the subsequent century as the result of internal hapu conflict. The two groups cohabitated mostly in the south Wairarapa for a period, but then the Ngati Kahungunu newcomers negotiated several sections of land for themselves. This process was not seamless and instances of conflict continued between the two iwi over the centuries. The next significant period of change in the area was in the early nineteenth century with the progression of Te Rauparaha and others. This ushered in an era when many different iwi, including Ngati Whatua, Ngati Awa, Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tama, and Ngati Mutunga, made advances into the region and some Ngati Kahungunu hapu withdrew.

European incursion into the Wairarapa only began after the New Zealand Company’s Port Nicholson settlement was established. Based on the reports of the exploring and surveying parties that the company sent out, the southern Wairarapa became one of the first extensive tracts of land to be occupied by Europeans, although the Crown titles, negotiated by Donald McLean, were not obtained until 1853. However, it took substantially longer for settlement to progress beyond Masterton, which was linked to Wellington by road in 1859. Further incursion was slow because the northern Wairarapa was heavily forested, as opposed to the south with its relatively clear and large grass plains. In particular, the forest north of Mount Bruce was dense with rimu, tawa, matai, maire, kahikatea, and rata, and was known as Forty Mile Bush, which was within the larger Seventy Mile Bush that also encompassed places such as Dannevirke and Norsewood. Maori referred to this forest as Te Tapere Nui o Whatonga (The great forest of Whatonga) and an abundance of birdlife resided there amongst giant ancient trees, some of which were large enough for groups of local Maori to shelter within their trunks.

The forest acted as a significant barrier and therefore, while there was some European settlement in the northern Wairarapa before the late nineteenth century, it was not until roads were extended further and the railway link to Wellington established that the area was opened up for substantive settlement. In preparation for the construction of the railway the government had an active role in the foundation of several places in the Wairarapa and Tararua regions. Towns such as Mauriceville, Eketahuna, Norsewood, and Dannevirke were all initially formed as bases for the railway labourers. Part of the preparation for the railway construction included building a road through the district which had progressed by the mid to late 1870s.

This increased, albeit rudimentary, access meant that land sales in the Pahiatua area earnestly began in the early 1880s. An initially slow sales market was boosted greatly by purchases made on behalf of Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), who later went onto become British Prime Minister and Earl Balfour. In this way, when Pahiatua township was eventually established in 1881 it differed from most of the other settlements in the area because it was not created by the Crown, instead it resulted from private subdivisions of land. The site of Pahiatua had previously been a Maori village called Te Pohatu. It is thought that Pahiatua’s founder, Masterton nurseryman William Wilson McCardle (1844-1921), named the township after his friend and local Maori Chief, Koneke Pahiatua. Pahiatua, which means resting place, or camp, of the atua refers to a seventeenth century event when an atua rescued a Rangitane chief from invading forces to the south.

Once the subdivisions were made, Pahiatua quickly emerged as a frontrunner to become the main service centre of the area, which attracted further settlement and businesses to the town. By the mid 1880s local tenacity meant that the burgeoning town of about 500 people had shops, a hotel, and a road board, but had been by-passed by the railway despite Main Street having been specifically made unusually wide to compensate for the potential railway line down its centre. The fact that Main Street was prone to flooding was a valid reason for the government engineer to recommend the railway tracks be laid west of the town, but Pahiatua people saw this as a deliberate snub. Because it was a privately created town Pahiatua was slow to accrue many of the public facilities that were established comparatively early in other towns. However, the rapid growth of the town and wider area lead to the creation of the Pahiatua County Council in 1888 and the Pahiatua Borough in 1892.

In the immediate aftermath of the decision for the railway to circumvent Pahiatua there was considerable local debate about what to do with the excessively wide Main Street. The road was three chains wide compared with the standard which was one chain; a measurement that was ample for the road requirements of the day. Therefore, one suggestion was that the outer land should merely be subsumed into the sections either side of the road. However, the status quo was maintained with what was to be the central railway reserve kept as recreational area upon which the County Council organised tree planting in the late nineteenth century. From this period the ‘squares’ in the middle of the road were developed as recreational areas, the southern-most square even featured tennis courts in the 1930s.

In 1908 Pahiatua was described as a ‘rising town.’ Although the timber industry was not as dominant as in the initial settlement period, it was still important locally. However, by the early years of the twentieth century the dairy industry was the major economic contributor to the area, and this was supplemented by sheep farming and fruit production and processing. It was during this period of growth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century that Kenneth Anderson Bayne (1888-1916), an orphan, moved to the district to be raised by the Stewart family at Konini, a few kilometres south of Pahiatua. Bayne seems to have become well-known locally as an athlete, playing rugby for the Konini Club and representing the region as a Bush Union player, as well as excelling in wrestling. However, by the time World War One began Bayne was employed as a government surveyor based in Porangahau, southern Hawke’s Bay.

Like many men of his generation Bayne answered the call to serve in World War One. Only a few months after the outbreak of the war Bayne joined the Auckland Mounted Rifles and trained at Trentham before embarking for Egypt in February 1915. Upon arrival he transferred to the Wellington Mounted Rifles but was not involved in the initial ANZAC campaign at Gallipoli, Turkey, due to being hospitalised with the flu. However, upon recovery Bayne joined the campaign in August 1915 and soon after was severely wounded in his left arm which meant he was evacuated to England.

The ANZAC legend was forged at Gallipoli, which was a devastating campaign and one that solidified the horror of the war in the psyches of those back in New Zealand and Australia due to the incomprehensible casualties and numbers of wounded. Over the nine months of fighting from April 1915 about one quarter of the New Zealanders involved in the campaign died. In the broader context of World War One, these losses were meagre compared with those in France and Belgium. However, there was the feeling that in the Gallipoli campaign the ANZAC forces were thrown into an impossible situation and showed immense selfless courage in battling against the odds.

Despite losing the use of his left arm due to the wounds sustained at Gallipoli, Bayne still contributed to the war effort while he was convalescing by working in several army hospitals in England. He continued in this way, with his arm causing him pain throughout, for over a year until the decision was made to send him back to New Zealand aboard the SS Ruahine. It was on this journey on 25 November 1916 that Bayne’s legacy was forged when he jumped overboard near Pitcairn Island in the hope of retrieving a toddler, Theodore Edward Auston, who had fallen into the shark infested water. The alarm was raised onboard and despite a lengthy search aided by illuminated buoys, neither Auston nor Bayne were seen again.

The news of the heroic death of a well-known and liked ex-resident while returning from the war where he was horribly injured during the Gallipoli campaign struck a cord with Pahiatua people. Therefore, in December 1919 [it was decided that] a simple memorial was [to be] erected in his honour, describing the circumstances surrounding his death, in the prominent location of one of the town’s central squares. This [would ensure] that Bayne’s memory was paid homage locally, because he was not eligible for inclusion on the Pahiatua War Memorial, constructed on another of Main Street’s squares, because he did not die while on active duty.

However, it became apparent a few years later that despite the strength of public sentiment regarding Bayne, not everyone felt that he deserved the civic honour of his own memorial. A controversy was sparked locally when comments made by the mayor during a council meeting were published [ in November 1921, while the site for the memorial was being debated]. Newly elected mayor J.D. Wilson proclaimed that he did not think Bayne’s attempt to save the drowning toddler could be seen as bravery because, in his opinion, Bayne’s action stemmed from him being ‘mentally unbalanced, as a result of his war service.’ The Mayor expressed his opinion that the previous council should not have granted the permission for the memorial to be built. However, this stance was not seconded by any of the other council members present, leaving Wilson ‘to be content with a cold loneliness in his ignoble attitude.’

The Mayor’s comments drew an indignant rebuff from R.J.F. Aldrich of the Wellington Returned Soldiers’ Association. Aldrich, unlike the Mayor, knew Bayne personally having served with him at Gallipoli and subsequently worked with him for a year in England during their convalescence. Aldrich admonished the Mayor by stating that during his lifetime he had ‘never heard a more gratuitous insult flung at a dead man. Listen to me Sir! Kenny Bayne was one of God’s heroes.’ To Aldrich, and he believed everyone else, Bayne was worthy of his commemorative structure and Aldrich closed his statement by noting that: ‘There are only two people who do not regard Kenny’s action as an act of bravery; one is yourself and the other is my pal’, Kenny Bayne.’

It is not clear whether Wilson’s imprudent attitude, which does not appear to have been shared by the rest of the community, tarnished his popularity locally, although a few years later he was voted out of office. The controversy does not seem to have had a lasting effect though, because in 1929 Wilson again became mayor and held this office until 1938, which made him Pahiatua’s longest serving mayor.

[The memorial to Kenneth Anderson Bayne was duly erected despite the mayor's protestations, and was unveiled on 3 April 1922 by the Hon. C.J. Parr, Minister for Health and Education, in the presence of a large crowd.] Kenneth Anderson Bayne is also honoured on the Wellington Provincial Memorial at Karori Cemetery in Wellington. This memorial archway is dedicated to servicemen who lost their lives at sea during World War One, and was later expanded to include members of the armed forces who died in and around New Zealand or en route to fight in World War Two.

Physical Description

The large grassed median-strip of Pahiatua’s Main Street features six squares which are planted with mature tress. With the exception of the northern and southern park spaces each have central lengthwise concrete paths as well as intermittent perpendicular pathways. The squares are defined by the roads that intersect them, which correspond to the size of the blocks in the commercial area. The largest square is between Mangahao Road/Princess Street and Tui/Wakeman Street, and this is flanked by two squares to its southwest and three northeast squares. The centre of the main square features the town’s timber Flagpole which dates from 1900, a central seating area, and the Pahiatua War Memorial and another commemorative flagpole. Facilities on the other squares include more seating and picnic areas, public toilets, and a children’s play area.

The Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial is centrally located on the square immediately south of the main square, between Mangahao Road/Princess Street and Huia/Kiwi Street. The structure marks the axis of the central pathway and its perpendicular paths, which oppose 128 and 159 Main Street on their respective sides of the street. Being a relatively dominative structure, the memorial is enclosed by the surrounding plantings, but views of the memorial are unobscured along its squares arterial footpath, creating a focal point.

The obelisk form of the structure is simple and typical of memorial monuments dating from the period during and immediately after World War One. Despite, not being a dedicated war memorial, using this form of monument for the Kenneth Bayne Memorial was appropriate because of the traditional associations of obelisks with cemetery markers.

The main section of the monument is made from reddish-brown granite, similar to that used in the Pahiatua War Memorial. The War Memorial also takes the form of a square obelisk and therefore there are visual, commemorative, and symbolic links between the two structures. However, the War Memorial is approximately twice as high as its counterpart. These two monuments both have stepped concrete bases and on the Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial this pedestal has been painted white.

The granite upper part of the Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial is divided into three sections; an upper needle that terminates in a pyramid shape, a middle vertically rectangular section with a bevelled upper edge, and a horizontally rectangular base which also has a bevelled upper edge and is the widest part of this main part of the memorial. On every side of each section there is a plain line boarder has been incised into the stone. The only other feature of the obelisk is the inscription which occupies each section on the southwest face of the monument. This is also etched into the stone work and both the borders and inscription are whitened in order to make them stand out against the granite. The writing on the needle identifies the structure as a memorial, while the story of Bayne’s death is comprehensively explained on the lower sections.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1921 - 1922

Construction Details

Concrete, granite

Completion Date

7th October 2010

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Bagnall, 1976

A. G. Bagnall, Wairarapa; An Historical Excursion, Trentham, 1976

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1908

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 6, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, 1908

MacLean, 1990

Chris MacLean and Jock Phillips, The Sorrow and the Pride: New Zealand War Memorials, Wellington, 1990

McLintock, 1966

An Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Government Printer, Wellington, 1966

Adcock, 1973

I., Adcock, A Goodly Heritage: Eketahuna and districts 100 years, 1873-1973, Eketahuna, 1973

Grant, 1995

Grant, I.F., North of the Waingawa: The Masterton Borough and County Councils, 1877-1989, Masterton, 1995

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central Region office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.