On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. New Zealand was quick to follow. At the time, many New Zealanders considered themselves British, and there was no hesitation about supporting Mother England in the war.
Today, Monday 4 August 2014, we mark the centenary of this very significant historical event, in which 40,000 New Zealanders were injured and more than 18,000 lost their lives.
A national ceremony was held outside Parliament this morning to mark the centenary period. As part of the ceremony, the 16 Field Regiment of the New Zealand Defence Force carried out a 100-gun salute on the waterfront outside Te Papa. It was a beautiful, still morning, and a large crowd gathered to watch the salute. Considering its large numbers, the crowd was very quiet, in part due to anticipation about what was to come, and in part due to the bright orange ear plugs helpfully passed out by NZ Defence Force personnel.
16 Field Regiment prepares for the 100-gun salute.
The guns are towed howitzers – the L119 Hamel 105mm Field Gun. They are currently in service with 16 Field Regiment based at Linton Military Camp.
And we were grateful for the ear plugs too. The sound of the guns was deafening, reverberating off Wellington’s buildings and hills. Apart from an initial gasp as the first gun fired, the crowd remained nearly silent throughout. Boats on the harbour paused to watch. A man near me stood with his hand on his heart. It was a moving, and fitting, acknowledgement of the world at war a century ago.
Smoke from the blank cartridges rises above the water.
What are you doing to commemorate the WWI centenary? We’d love to hear about what you have planned.
Tamara Patten, Communications Officer, National Services Te Paerangi