A memorial for a fallen officer
by Andy Bryenton
Dargaville’s Mangawhare wharf, adjacent to the intersection of Murdoch Street and River Road, has seen better days.
However, it’s possible that this old historical landing point is about to undergo a renaissance, thanks to some local enthusiasm, the Provincial Growth Fund, and a tragic but striking chapter in Kiwi history.
The wharf is under the custodianship of local tourism entrepreneur John Hansen, who operates the successful Dargaville Rail Carts venture. John has been in contact with the police force, who have a special interest in seeing the wharf restored. There, on the night of July 31 1890, the first Kiwi policeman to be killed in the line of duty lost his life, slain by a gunshot from drunken gumdigger Henry Funcke.
The executive assistant to Police Commissioner Bush has been in contact with Mr Hansen to ask how the police could be involved, to perhaps memorialise this event. As he says:
“Our proposal is to rebuild the wharf and to erect a memorial plaque to honour Constable McLeod’s dedication to duty and his sacrifice.
Not only will this project be a great community asset, but would be a fitting historical recognition of the work in the community of the NZ Police force.”
Mr Hansen and supporters of the plan to rebuild the wharf have applied to the Provincial Growth Fund, which aims to support tourism and access to waterways. They are also keen to workshop input from the council and other community stakeholders to make this happen.