US Marines in New Zealand

water for every need

For several thousand US Marines in Camp Mackay and Camp Russell, this reservoir was the main water supply.

Another source was a water main from the Paekākāriki supply dam in Smith’s Creek that entered the southern end of the camp. The Marines, leading a strenuous life in close quarters, needed a lot of water – for showers, for cooking, for drinking, for laundry and for toilets.

US Marines in New Zealand

United States Marines with their mess equipment at their camp in Paekākāriki, 15 September 1943. Photograph taken by John Pascoe during Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt's visit. Sorce: War Effort Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, N.Z

The Reservoir

A 9 inch (23 cm.) water main fed this reservoir from an intake a few hundred metres away. Smaller pipes took water from the reservoir along the terrace to the west and led between ‘tent decks’ to laundries, latrines, showers, cookhouses and mess rooms. A large sewer carried the waste water away to a treatment plant in Camp Russell (Queen Elizabeth Park).

US Marines in New Zealand

The reservoir has been closed down because it was contaminating the farm water supply.

The Department of Conservation says birds were defecating in the open reservoir and the wooden structure across the top was rotting and falling into the water. While it has now been fenced off and replaced by two new covered tanks – providing the farm water supply, it is still clearly visible to members of the public interested in seeing it.