Photo: Lyndon Hood. Click here for larger version
There was a crowd in the grounds of Parliament this morning for a ceremony to mark the start of events to commemorate the centenary of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War.
The event was webcast on www.youtube.com/WW100nz.
News from Ministry of Culture and Heritage
In 1914, Britain’s proclamation of war was read out to an excited Wellington audience of 15,000 in the grounds of the New Zealand Parliament by Lord Liverpool, Governor of New Zealand. With a sense of duty and adventure, New Zealand men rushed to sign up to fight for King and country, ready to cross the globe to reach the European battlefields before the ‘short war’ ended. Ten percent of our population of one million served overseas, of which more than 18,000 died and over 40,000 were wounded. Nearly every New Zealand family was affected.
Led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, the programme for this morning’s ceremony is available here http://ww100.govt.nz/national-ceremonies.
The original proclamation of war was read from the steps of Parliament Buildings and members of the New Zealand Defence Force, dressed in First World War replica uniforms, lowered the flags on Parliament forecourt, with the support of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band. The Last Post was played and the Ode was read.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests placed the last ten crosses on the Field of Remembrance Trust’s field of 100 white crosses on the Parliamentary lawn.
As part of the ceremony, members of the 16th Field Regiment of the Royal New Zealand Artillery fired a 100-Gun Salute from the waterfront in front of Te Papa.
“WW100, our programme for the First World War centenary, focuses on New Zealand’s experience of the war at home and overseas,” says Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and Minister responsible for WW100. “This ceremony is the first national commemoration in a programme that is largely community-led supported by Government initiatives and national and international commemorations and projects.”
New Zealand is the first on 4th August to formally mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War. Australia will mark the date with an evening Last Post ceremony at the Australian War Memorial Museum. The Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae will represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth ceremony at Glasgow Cathedral, Tony Ryall will attend a concurrent ceremony at Liege in Belgium. New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Great Britain Lockwood Smith will attend a vigil at Westminster Cathedral.
Other related events today include a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior by New Zealand Defence Force Service chiefs and events for the launch of NZ Post’s First World War commemorative stamps and coins including a Memorial March from Queens Wharf to Te Papa in Wellington.
An overview of the WW100 programme, annual themes and historical information is available here http://ww100.govt.nz/about . Media resources including images and the WW100 symbol are here http://ww100.govt.nz/for-media .