US Marines in New Zealand

A Friend in Need – the exhibition with many lives…

Combining photographs, videos, maps, paintings and a rich array of WWII memorabilia, A Friend in Need tells the age-old story of how ‘a friend in need’ is ‘a friend indeed’.

For those wanting to know about the ‘friendly invasion’ of US Armed forces in New Zealand during WWII, it’s a great starting place to get the basics, be intrigued and learn more.

Now 17 years old, the exhibition has had three different lives, in three very different places. After two years amid the splendid kauri, rimu and totara interior of Old St Paul’s Cathedral, it was re-invented for the more brutalist National Arm Museum in Waiouru. Then it returned to the Wellington waterfront to the (then) Museum of City & Sea before coming to rest at the Paekākāriki Station Museum.

The exhibition was commissioned by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 2006 and generously supported by the Embassy of the United States of America in Wellington.

It was originally developed by William Bevil for Story Inc to suit the elegant wooden interior of Old St Paul’s, known as the home church for thousands of Marines who sailed into Wellington Harbour in 1942. The 48-star United States flag and a 2nd Marine Division Marine Flag still hang in the church commemorating this historic association.

Sitting alongside SH1, guarded by restored military vehicles and overseen by the spectacular surrounding mountains of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, the National Army Museum in Waiouru was next in line for a visit. The museum wasn’t built when the Marines were in New Zealand, but many of them will have visited this spectacular part of the country while on leave.

When the show finished, the Army Museum kindly donated panels they’d created to the Trust. With the aid of another grant from the U.S.Embassy work began on designing a new show for the Paekākāriki Station Museum.