Southern plans for commemorating the centenary of World War 1
were revealed at a ceremony in Dunedin yesterday and were
accompanied by a call from the region's mayors and historians
for the public to get involved.
About a dozen events were planned in both Otago and
Southland, including a major event in Dunedin in September to
mark 100 years since Otago and Southland troops first left
from Dunedin for the theatre of war.
Details were announced at a gathering at Montecillo Veterans
Home and Hospital yesterday.
More events will be added as the four-year-long
Events planned in Otago include exhibitions at museums and
galleries, a book on the history of Montecillo Veterans Home
and Hospital and the establishment of an honour roll and a
statue in Queenstown.
The major event this year in Dunedin will be embarkation
weekend in September, marking the weekend in 1914 when Otago
and Southland troops first embarked on trains at Dunedin
Railway Station for Port Chalmers, where they boarded ships
and sailed off to war.
Prof Tom Brooking, of Otago University, who ran what he
believed was the only New Zealand university history course
on World War 1, said it was important to commemorate World
War 1 because it was the greatest calamity to beset the
Western world and had a deep and lingering effect on New
Most New Zealanders had personal links to WW1, he said.
Because the country was so small, the impact on it was
extraordinary, with soldiers coming from every community,
pretty much every family.
''There is nothing to celebrate. It was a horrific experience
for those people and they were going to fight to defend an
open society. There was a reason for going and we have to
The commemorations also needed to honour all sides of the
experience, from the soldiers and nurses, to the communities,
families and the pacifists.
Military historian Dr Aaron Fox, of Invercargill, said he
hoped the 15 projects already planned in Southland would
inspire people to get involved.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks and Waitaki
Mayor Gary Kircher attended the announcement to publicise the
commemorations and urge as many people as possible to support
the projects planned in their communities, and to come up
with more ideas for commemorative activities.
Mr Cull said remembering WW1 was important because it shaped
how New Zealand developed.
Mr Hicks said his generation was the most fortunate in New
Zealand history because of what the generation before it
''I think it's fitting we take time over the next few years
to remember the sacrifices that have been made.''
• More information can be found at: WW100.govt.nz.