Memories preserved in stone

Savage Memorial, Bastion Point, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2017

The human need to create monuments to remember our dead is a powerful one — from huge, world-renowned structures like the Taj Mahal, to row after row of identical crosses in war cemeteries across the world.

One of my favourite monuments is to Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand’s first Labour prime minister (1935-1940). The understated simplicity of both the obelisk and surrounding gardens are a fitting tribute to the man who was the architect of New Zealand’s once-great welfare state.

The headstone of John Chaafe may lack the scale of Michael Savage’s memorial, but is no less poignant. The 15 year old jockey was killed when his horse Gold Lac fell at the start of a race. In the midst of WWI, when young Kiwis were dying in their thousands in Europe, the loss of a boy too young to fight and engaged in a sport that brought pleasure to war-weary Kiwis, seems especially sad.

Ragtag Daily Prompt | monument

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11 thoughts on “Memories preserved in stone

    • Thanks Peter. Michael Savage left an incredible legacy that helped make NZ a wonderful place for many years after his death. The poor young jockey had no chance to do that. ☹️

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  2. This is so tragic about the jockey. 😯 I’ve always been fascinated by the human need to create monuments for their dead, the ancient Egyptians being right on top of it. And then there are also cultures like in Papua Newguinea where they didn’t do anything like it. Or the Victorians who experimented with taking pictures of the newly deceased.

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