On the 15th July 1915, the first wounded New Zealand World War I soldiers returned from Gallopoli and were greeted in a heroes welcome in Wellington, as their ship ‘Willochra’ came into harbour.

Donald Simson looked over his fellow wounded soldiers thoughtfully and saw a great need. These boys were facing a different world now. They now had different struggles to overcome and many mental/spirtual hills to climb – there had to be an association to help with what needed to be done. This was the beginning of the R.N.Z.R.S.A (Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association).

Acting as advocates, the association helped the returned soldiers with numerous welfare services, housing, work, rehabilitation, support for grieving families and saw to it that memorials were erected for the honourable dead.

In Christchurch, the R.S.A were hard at work. Burnside and Bryndwr Farms were purchased and subdivided for housing and the area known as Hei Hei became a series of poultry farms, providing work for the returned Canterbury lads. These farms ran from 1914 to 1918.

The phrase Hei Hei means noise, disturbance or storm – there is no record of how that name came up or who chose it.

Pictured is Colonel Hugh Stewart, President of the Christchurch Branch of the R.S.A laying a wreath on the foundation stone of The Bridge of Remembrance on the 25th April 1923. The memorial was completed and officially opened on the 11th November 1924.

*image courtesy of http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/*

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