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WW100 Linking our Past with the Present

Soldiers from 16 Field Regiment fire a 100-gun slaute on the Wellington Waterfront to mark the beginning of the First World War

4 August 2014

Today marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. It marks the start of an important period of commemoration for our nation, but also for us as a Defence Force, that will span the next four years.

WW100 is New Zealand’s First World War Centenary programme and the NZDF is a key partner.

New Zealand’s commemoration focuses on the First World War’s impact on everyone. It is not about the glorification of war. But it is appropriate to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of so many young New Zealanders towards a cause they felt compelled to risk all for, including their very lives. Out of a population of one million, more than 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the First World War. Almost one in five of those were killed, a further 41,000 were wounded.

Our modern-day Defence Force values of courage, commitment and comradeship were in part forged in the cauldron of the First World War. Through mud, and muck, heat and stench, against difficult terrain, ill-conceived tactics, and with under prepared and at times poorly supplied troops, none-the-less they stuck to their task. This was a triumph of their spirit. And it was only because of this spirit that our side did eventually prevail.

To mark the beginning of the First World War for New Zealand, a wreath was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in Buckle Street, and at 9am an official ceremony was held at Parliament. Ten crosses were laid, to bring the total number to 100, in the field of remembrance, the last post was played and New Zealand flags were lowered to half-mast at parliament's forecourt.

Members of our Defence Force supported the ceremony – some in First World War replica uniforms and some in present-day combat uniform.

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