This obelisk dedicated to Thomas Alexander Hempton was unveiled at Ōkato Cemetery on 11 October 1900, making it one of the earliest South African War memorials in New Zealand.

In memory of T. A. Hempton who died on 4th April 1900 whilst serving the Empire in the 2nd N.Z. Contingent during the war with the South African Republics

Thomas Hempton  grew up in New Plymouth but later farmed at Ōkato and was regularly selected as a Taranaki rugby representative between 1885 and 1894. He enlisted in the 2nd Contingent to serve in the South African War (also known as the Second Anglo-Boer War) in 1899, but died of disease in Vanwyks Vley (also spelled Vanwyksvlei or Van Wyksvlei, meaning Van Wyk's Marsh) in the Northern Cape, South Africa on 3 April 1900. Two other New Plymouth rugby players – Clement Wiggins and Charles Enderby – also died in 1900 while serving with the New Zealand contingents in South Africa.

In September 1900 members of the Star and Tukapa Rugby Clubs in New Plymouth decided to erect a memorial to their three colleagues in the Recreation Grounds (now known as Pukekura Park). The proposal proved controversial, however, and the clubs appear to have withdrawn their support. Wiggins’ workmates from the Bank of New South Wales did eventually erect a memorial in Pukekura Park, but it was later vandalised and removed.

The Ōkato community contributed to Thomas Hempton’s memorial in the local cemetery and his mother Mary, in recognition of the action, gifted the land on which Hempton Hall now stands. His father, Thomas Hempton Snr, was New Plymouth Town Clerk from 1884 to 1897.



Related Information


Memorial to the late Trooper Hempton (Taranaki Herald 12 October 1900)


Online Cenotaph record for Thomas Alexander Hempton


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