We remember – Peacemakers Garden

With ANZAC Day approaching, now is a good time to share one of the remembrance projects the Trust has been involved in. The Peacemakers Garden within the larger Papakura Camp Memorial Garden, has recently been upgraded, but before we get into that, a little background as to it’s beginning.

The Peacemakers Garden


The Peacemakers Garden was created by the Commanding Officer’s wife (project manager) in 2005 on behalf of the McNutt family to recognise the loss of Acting Major John McNutt who was killed 13 March 2001 while conducting training in Kuwait. The garden is a leaving gift from John McNutt to the Regiment, not a memorial. It aims to provide a place of reflection. The Pounamu (greenstone) came from John’s parents, Goodwin and Mary McNutt.

The design is a koru with the path and the water feature combining to form the koru shape, which represents new life and future possibilities. The plants, the set and the stones in the water feature all come from the West Coast of the South Island which is from where John and his family originate.

The Pounamu is the cornerston piece of the feature. On the rill over which the water flows and spills onto the Pounamu is the blessing given to it by the Waitaha people. Members of the McNutt family have had a long association with the Waitaha people of Canterbury, and it was to the Waitaha people that they turned to assist in the passing of the Taonga Pounamu from their care into the permanent guardianship of the NZSAS.The Pounamu was officially gifted to 1 NZSAS Group by the McNutt family in burnham on 13 March 2003. During the ceremonial transfer mention was made of the fact that the Waitaha people were not a war-like people and had no warriors. In times of conflict they would often intercede between the protagonists, and cast a protecting cloak over the fallen to save them from further harm.

With the following words the cloak of protection (te korowai a Rongomaraeroa) was figuratively cast over the Taonga Pounamu just prior to it’s being passed from one family (the McNutts) to the other (NZSAS).

Marama mai, Marama atu,
Marama ki te au, Marama ki ahau,
Anei ahau te mokai o Waitaha,
Naumai naumai te Rangimarie,
Naumai Naumai Naumai te Korowai,
O Rongomaraeroa
Tau Kiri e.

Let the light shine to me
Let the light shine from me
Let the light shine to the world
Le the light then shine back to me
I am here the favoured child of the Waitaha
Give to me the covenant of Peace
Give to me the cloak of the caretaker of Peace
Your will.

By Ken McAnergney
Ngati Rakai o Waitaha
13 March 2003

The garden was officially opened by the McNutt family on 22 April 2005, and has since been a place for people to sit and reflect in remembrance of loved ones.

2017 Peacemakers Garden Upgrade

In May 2017 the Commanding Officer of 1 NZSAS Regiment, approached NZSAS Trust with a plan to upgrade the area around the Peacemakers Garden. Being directly by a roadside, and in open view of the rest of camp, he felt it needed some privacy and an enhanced seating area in order for individuals and families to feel more comfortable and able to reflect in peace. He submitted his plan which the Trust (and Trust donors) helped finance.

Work began in November 2017 and was completed within a few weeks. Punga log walls now surround the reflecting pool, with native planting and a beautiful curved pathway that leads to two granite seats where guests can sit out of public view. As the punga trees mature they will provide additional shade and sense of privacy. A retaining wall behind the garden was also planted with ivy. When fully grown it will mirror the mounds of ivy that currently surround the larger memorial area, thereby tying it in to the overall design.

NZSAS Trust and its supporters are delighted with how the garden turned out, and the camp Chaplain has noticed a marked increase in visitors to the Peacemakers Garden. He feels it is a great asset to bereaving families, and individuals that just want a quiet place to sit and reflect. NZSAS Trust is grateful to generous supporters who wish to remain unnamed at this time. Their support was invaluable in getting the garden financed and completed.

Visitors to Papakura Camp will be able to visit the Peacemakers Garden on ANZAC Day this year, and any other time they are in camp. It is a very special and important part of our Memorial Garden.

Memorial Garden Photos