Latest News & Public Notices

Alf Simpson Drive becomes our district's first Poppy Place

08 March 2019

Alf Simpson Drive in Whitianga is now officially our district's first 'Poppy Place' with a red poppy signpost, identifying it as a site of remembrance in conjunction with the NZ Poppy Places Trust.

The Drive, located in that Pacific Estate subdivision at the northern end of Cook Drive Whitianga, was named in memory of Alf Simpson who was born and raised in Kuaotunu and enlisted in the Navy when he was 16 years old. He served for two years on HMNZS Gambia during World War II.

The Mercury Bay Returned Services Association made the request for The Drive to be featured as a Poppy Place, and this was suppored by the Mercury Bay Community Board.

Alfred Alexander Simpson (Alf) followed the path of his father, Richard who joined the Army and served in France in World War 1. Alf applied to join Navy in 1943.

HMS Gambia was a Crown Colony-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was in the service of the Royal New Zealand Navy as HMNZS Gambia from 1943 to 1946. She was named after the then Crown colony of Gambia, and has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name (pictured above).

The New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association, in conjunction with local councils, has initiated a public push to have street signs with historic military links sign posted with a red poppy.

The process for the addition of a red poppy to an identified site of remembrance is occurs in conjunction with the New Zealand Poppy Places Trust. The poppy is the property of the New Zealand Returned and Service’s Association and New Zealand Poppy Places Trust is acting for the New Zealand Returned and Service’s Association in releasing the use of the poppy to places of remembrance.

The New Zealand Poppy Places Trust (Poppy Places) believes there are perhaps 3000 places which, if left to history, may disappear from our collective consciousness. Their aim is to provide a “place” where these stories are captured and forever stored.

You can read the story of Alf Simpson's time aboard the HMNZS Gambia here.