Historic Graffiti at Trentham Ranges
The History Of The Trentham Rifle Ranges
The Trentham Ranges have been associated with NZ Defence Force and the sport of rifle shooting since 1892, when Sommerville Range was opened by the NZ Rifle Association on swampy farmland leased from Alexander McCulloch. Seddon and Collins Ranges followed in 1906. The ranges are the home of the Ballinger Belt, New Zealand's oldest sporting trophy.
The ranges were well used throughout World War 1, and were upgraded in time for World War 2 with concrete markers' galleries constructed at Seddon progressively between the wars, and galleries at Sommerville and Collins following in 1940 or 1941.
The 'gallery' is the concrete structure located behind the grassed 'mantlet' from where target makers can safely operate the target hoists, scoring shooters' hits and replacing the targets. The galleries have a concrete floor, wall and ceiling, with a 45° angle between the wall and the ceiling. Bullets are captured in sand or soil 'stop butts' located behind the galleries.
The ranges were all heavily used throughout World War 2, when bored target markers, including NZ servicemen and US Marines stationed in the Wellington area, began to record their names on the gallery walls.
Most of the graffiti is in pencil, but the shelter provided by the gallery roof enabled much of it to survive the past 70 years.
The graffiti artists include US Marines, NZ Army, Navy and Air Force servicemen, cadet forces, police officers and sporting shooters. Most examples are simple records - name, service number, unit, reinforcements, with an occasional home address. There are some great pencil sketches, and some poignant postscripts, like the gravestones added to the names of two US Marines, 'Ken Harvey' and 'J Morand'.
As you browse along the walls, you may come across some offensive graffiti, but these are few and far between. Despite the risk of offence, we believe it is important to maintain a complete historic record including all the graffiti, regardless of content.
Please be aware that the galleries are located in an active live-firing military range area, so physical access is prohibited for everyone's safety. However, we hope you enjoy viewing the graffiti electronically, find names you recognise and post your 'Recollections'. If you have any questions please contact the Environmental Manager, Defence Property Group at Environment@nzdf.mil.nz.
Copyright for the gallery wall photos and catalogue lies with NZDF, however the walls were photographed in 2011 by Tony Kellaway of Kellaway Associates, and the catalogue was prepared by Simon Daisley.
Find a Graffito
Use the search function to look for the signature of a friend or family member who has served at Trentham, or click on the links above to browse the range gallery walls. Tags on the walls will take you to enlarged versions of individual graffiti.
Note that many of the names on the walls contain one or more illegible letters. We have attempted to list all possible names where the letters are unclear, but try searching part of the name if a search for the full name is unsuccessful.
You can also search by rank, service number, unit, corps or service.
Alan (Nitz) Raymond
Grafitto: "A.R. Nitz, D Coy Nicholson Bty, H.G. Wellington, Te Aroha"
Notes: Alan served as a gunner in the Korean War. He later changed his surname to Raymond because of post-war ill-feeling toward Germanic names.
Image courtesy of Maureen MacDonald (niece)
Grafitto: "Eric Colgan, Kaukapakapa, Nth Auckland, 21/9/42."
Notes: Eric served in the 24th Battalion and served from the Middle East right through to Austria. He embarked for Egypt in 1942 shortly after signing the wall.
Image courtesy of Mrs Elva Colgan (wife)
Michael D Mingolelli
Grafitto: "M.D. Mingolelli USMC"
Notes: US Marine in the 2nd Reconnaissance, 2nd Marine Division and served in Saipan and Tinian.
Image courtesy of Michelle Vattula (granddaughter)
Markers working in Sommerville Range gallery, 1959.
(Arthur Turnbull Library EP/1959/0685-F)