Waikato marks 100 years since World War I

17:00, Aug 01 2014

Hamilton West School students will step back in time to mark the centenary of World War I - and they're taking their school books with them.

The students will dress in World War I-era clothes and take part in a day of 1914-themed classes at Hamilton's Garden Place Library on Tuesday.

Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914. New Zealand followed on the 5th.

More than 16 million people died in World War I including 18,500 New Zealanders.

Just over 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas in the conflict.

Hamilton City libraries lifelong learning librarian Lisa Pritchard said Hamilton West School students would take part in role play and learn about Hamilton in 1914.


Books and photographs from the period will also be displayed.

Meanwhile, Waikato Museum and the University of Waikato will mark the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I with a free lecture series at the museum.

The Great War Lecture Series begins on Saturday with an hour-long talk by University lecturer Colm McKeogh entitled Devices of War and Instruments of Peace.

Hamilton RSA president Len Knapp said the organisation would hold a World War I commemorative dinner on November 4.

Fallen WWI soldiers will be honoured in a five-day long exhibition and film festival in Te Kuiti.

At 1pm on August 5 - the same time the telegram declaring war was delivered to parliament exactly 100 years earlier - the town siren will sound as it would in an air raid.

The event, held in Journey Church, will officially begin on Tuesday at 12.45pm with a short opening service and a blessing by a local kaumatua.

Eight war-themed movies will play between Tuesday and Saturday, and the exhibition will be free to the public daily until 3pm next Saturday.

Pastor Terry Bradley said 200 soldiers from Waitomo District were killed in WWI - which he estimated was up to 10 per cent of the region's population of the 1910s.

"Our population now is about 10,000 so that's like 1000 people getting killed.

"I was in the army myself and I have two sons in the army, so it's quite close to home."

A role of honour will be on display at the church, alongside a trench decked out with sandbags and mud.

"We even managed to get sound effects of battle from WWI," Bradley said.

The commemoration was put together by church members, Waitomo District Council and Te Kuiti RSA.

The council has received more than $15,000 in Lottery grants for the festival and other WWI commemoration activities.

Otorohanga established a Garden of Remembrance in April to commemorate fallen soldiers. No specific events are planned for Tuesday.

The garden opened on Anzac Day and blooms in the Bert McKenzie Reserve on State Highway 3, Otorohanga.

Fifty-six soldiers from the Otorohanga district lost their lives in WWI.

Cambridge Museum and Cambridge Library are paying tribute to the men and women who served in the war with displays featuring items brought home by soldiers from both world wars.

Items in the display include everything from a Mills bomb hand grenade to a Turkish bayonet from Gallipoli in 1915.

Cambridge Library's display will be put up next week and will feature books, photos and newspaper clippings on the war.

World War 1 commemorations in the South Waikato will kick off with the laying of white crosses in Putaruru, Tokoroa and Tirau.

Putaruru will be laying crosses in the garden of memories but the date is still to be confirmed.

RSA president Murray Bath said they are hoping that people in the district who had grandparents or great-grandparents who went to the first World War will come forward.

Tokoroa RSA president Ken Reid said they planned on really kicking off commemorations next Anzac Day.

Matamata Piako District Council have worked with the Matamata RSA to erect white cross in Matamata to commemorate the centenary. A field of crosses will be unveiled at Matamata's Founders Park, opposite the RSA on Ngaio St, on Monday.

The 31 crosses are personalised with the name and rank of every soldier who died in World War I.

The council will also plant a memorial garden in Matamata this winter to be ready next Anzac Day.

Morrinsville Returned Services Association will put up crosses in the rose garden in Moorhouse St, next to the Baptist Church, on Monday morning followed by a service at 2pm.

Te Aroha RSA president Russell Smith said members will be erecting 100 crosses outside the clubrooms in Rewi St on Sunday afternoon.

Members of the Pukekohe and Districts RSA and army vehicles will parade down Pukekohe's King St in November as part its World War I 100 year anniversary commemorations.

The parade, scheduled for November 9, will be followed by the RSA's annual Armistice Day service on November 11.

Waikato Times