WWI: 100-gun salute in capital

Last updated 10:30 04/08/2014
ALEX LIU/Stuff.co.nz

A 100-round salute is fired on the Wellington waterfront to commemorate the beginning of the First World War.

Gun salute 2
100-gun salute, Wellington waterfront, to mark 100 years since the beginning of WWI.

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Hundreds of people flocked to Wellington's waterfront this morning to commemorate the war dead that few, if any, there today would have known.

August 4, 1914 was the day New Zealand entered World War I, which killed 18,000 Kiwis and injured 40,000 more.

The 100-gun salute to mark a century since the start of World War I went off without a hitch this morning, except for one of the ten guns refusing to fire.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Shaw, commanding officer of the 16th Field Regiment, said a misfiring gun was ''not unknown of''.

After a quick reshuffling of blanks the full 100 shots- one for each year since New Zealand entered the war - were fired.''

Apart from that, it all seemed to go fine,'' he said.People turned out in their droves, lining the waterfront in front of Frank Kitts Park and beside Te Papa.''

This is a great reflection of the importance New Zealanders place in the event,'' Shaw said.

Among the crowds was a group of children, aged three-and-a-half to four years old, from Kids Reserve Childcare on The Terrace in Wellington.

Alesi Fanatanu, who brought them down, said the children enjoyed the excitement of the bangs and the smoke but ''most of them were interested in looking at other stuff''.

This morning was the first time in more than 100 years a gun salute of this size has been fired in New Zealand.

The blank rounds were fired from 10 towered howitzers.Gun salutes grew from a naval tradition. A war ship would fire its cannons till all ammunition was used up to show it was disarmed and had no hostile intent.

Earlier this morning, a wreath was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in Buckle St and at 9am today there was a ceremony to mark the centenary in Parliament grounds in Wellington.

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- The Dominion Post


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