'War to end all wars' moulded NZ's future

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014
Graeme Lowe
CHARLOTTE CURD/ Fairfax NZ
REMEMBERING THEM: Graeme Lowe lays a wreath, on behalf of the Royal New Zealand Naval Association, at the Cenotaph in New Plymouth yesterday following a service commemorating the beginning of World War I. 

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The beginning of what was supposed to be the war to end all wars was commemorated in New Plymouth yesterday.

More than 100 people attended the ceremony marking the beginning of World War I at the Cenotaph and applauded as about 90 old soldiers marched down the street.

Among them was Turoa Robinson, 75, from Parihaka, who retired after 30 years' service in the Army in 1987.

He saw service in Malaya and in Vietnam where he was attached to the US 7th cavalry, which is famous for Colonel George Custer and the 19th century battle of Little Bighorn.

Robinson was in Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles, which also saw service in WWI, which was one of the reasons he was at the parade, he said.

During the ceremony New Plymouth Mayor Andrew Judd said WWI was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

"But that was a heartfelt wish rather than an accurate description."

The people gathered weren't there to celebrate the war, but to remember it, he said.

"World War I changed who we are as a nation."

About 100,000 Kiwis - out of a population of 1 million - went to fight in WWI. About 18,000 were killed and more than 40,000 wounded.

New Zealand Army Association padre Albie Martin asked why people should " stop and think about these things that happened so long ago".

There were very few people from any country who were unaffected by it, he said.

"The war had reached out and touched everyone."

After the service the soldiers marched through the town's central business district with the Devon Hotel New Plymouth City Brass Band and the 5WWCT Pipes and Drums.

They were followed by about 18 old and new military vehicles.

● Last post, First light: Page 5

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