Migrant memorial recognises contribution

Lui Tuia and Charlie Martella with a model of the memorial.
Lui Tuia and Charlie Martella with a model of the memorial.

BUNBURY men Lui Tuia and Charlie Martella are one step closer to erecting the memorial they have been working on for six years.

The memorial will recognise migrants who came to the South West in the early 1900s to help make the area what it is today.

Proud Australians with Italian heritage, both Mr Tuia’s and Mr Martella’s parents migrated from Italy in 1922 and 1926 respectively. 

They came with little but worked hard on farms and made a huge contribution to the area, Mr Tuia said.

“This is just as much about honouring them as it is reminding our children and grandchildren of their past,” Mr Tuia said.

“There are also lots of Greeks, Albanians and Yugoslavs who came to the South West in that time period.

“These people were exposed to extreme hardships made worse by two world wars and a depression.”

The project first came to fruition in 2009 before a committee was formed which held regular meetings to develop a design and discuss how to manage it.

Mr Tuia said the committee approached the Shire of Donnybrook-Balingup for a site but neither could agree on a suitable place.

But last week, the two men approached the City of Bunbury during an informal meeting to discuss plans to build the memorial in Queen’s Gardens. 

With support from most councillors on the project, the men will continue to liaise with City staff before they have to go-ahead.

Using a mix of bronze and stainless steel, the men will have help with manufacturing from inmates at the Bunbury Regional Prison.

Up to 500 stainless steel name plaques will be attached to the vertical leaves which will be sold and should raise about $200,000 to cover most of the project.

City of Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said the memorial would be a fitting tribute to the many early migrants from diverse backgrounds who helped make Bunbury the vibrant and welcoming region it is today.