Mayor Celia Wade Brown says this year’s commemorations mark a particularly poignant moment in history.
“While WW1 centenary commemorations began last year, it was on the Western Front in 1916 that our country experienced its most significant loss of life, she says
“More than 2000 New Zealanders are buried on the battlefield of the Somme and the programme planned for this year is an opportunity to remember those who died from injuries and disease, or were wounded in body and mind. It is also a time to remember the women and their families who were left behind to carry on.
“Today our links with Europe, Australia and Turkey are peaceful and constructive, cultural, intellectual and economic,” she says.
Pukeahu National War Memorial Park will play host to WWI Remembered: A Light and Sound Show, a production acknowledging New Zealand’s 2016 and 2017 contribution to the First World War. The light and sound show recalls fabled Kiwi stories, like that of the HMS New Zealand, a ship whose wartime ‘luck’ was often attributed to the hei tiki and piupiu worn by the captain in battle. The NZ Tunnelling Company’s 'Diggers’, famed for linking underground quarries dating back to medieval times, are also highlighted in the display.
With support from New Zealand’s First World War Centenary Programme (WW100), images from Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails will be included in the show. Ngā Tapuwae (the footsteps) gives people the opportunity to follow the New Zealand soldiers as they served on the Western Front. Visitors to the show will also be able to use an iPad to explore historic First World War sites with the Ngā Tapuwae Western Front app.
At Katherine Mansfield House and Garden Women of Empire 1914–1918: the untold stories of New Zealand and Australian women in WWI, pays tribute to the oft-forgotten contribution and sacrifice of women during the period. The exhibition explores the experiences of 30 women through costume and ephemera.
In a touching 2015 tribute, 866 white crosses were installed on Salamanca Lawn at the Wellington Botanic Garden honouring local soldiers who died a hundred years earlier. This year 964 individually named crosses will be added to their number along with one Star of David, commemorating those who died in 1916, bringing the total to 1831.
New Zealand’s ongoing relationship with Australia and Turkey will be highlighted with the installation of Sonic Wells in Wellington, Sydney and Çanakkale, Gallipoli. Designed by Australian artist Alan Giddy, each of the three ‘wells’ will transmit audio clear enough for people to be able to hold conversations from one location to another. Wellington’s well is in Cuba Street, between Dixon and Manners, and will be opened in an official launch on 23 April.