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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

They Shall Grow Not Old: World War 1 Soldiers of the Far North by Kaye Dragicevich & Graeme Wilson

This outstanding volume is a hardcover and contains over 600 pages of stories from the far north, accompanied by spectacular images of historical interest. The images are particularly remarkable.

This book is a gift beyond value. It is a true memorial to ordinary men who did extraordinary things. They were men who came from local communities who gave their lives to preserve peace in the world as they knew it. The Foreword is by Peter Jackson.

The book was commissioned by the Kaitaia War Memorial Restoration Group, a charitable organisation specifically formed to restore the War Memorial Monument in Kaitaia. There is a comprehensive coverage of the development of the group itself and their work in the community, but chiefly the book tells the history of places in the far north at the time of the First World War, and the men they lost.

Photos illustrating the area are from the authors' own comprehensive collection of historical images, covering Kaitaia, Mangonui, Awanui, Fairburns, Herekino, Hauhora, Kaingaroa, Peria, Ahipara, Te Kao, and many other small settlements.

The historians have engaged the lives of soldiers who fell, with their families, within each settlement.

The book exceeds all intended outcomes as it becomes a memorial to the Fallen. The heart wrenching profiles of over 150 individuals are supported by a chapter showing where they lie today. The cemeteries are illustrated with images and plot plans as well. The pictorial displays of the final resting places of each soldier are spectacular: from Kaitaia churchyard to Mudros island in Greece: from Brookwood Cemetery in England to Le Quesnoy in Belgium.

Yet another chapter outlines the New Zealand army development over the years 1900-1914, very clearly illustrated. Medals are shown, with explanations for each.

The presentation of this book is really spectacular. It is large and heavy but will be of great value. The historical coverage of the northern settlement by early pioneers is well covered. The losses to each community outlined. The author Kaye Dragicevich is well known locally for her publications: For example: The Gumfields of Northern Wairoa. The History of Awanui and many other stories of local history.

I will treasure my own copy.

Reviwer: Sonia Edwards

Published Ultimo Group ISBN 978-0-473-53976-4

$70 purchased by e mail from


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