Friday, 24 July 2009

Streaming video in Anzac Hall Featherston

Don Staples has managed to install the streaming video server into the Anzac Hall and it is working. There is only one camera which mounted in the rafters but it does give a good view of the exhibition. Unfortunately during the night in New Zealand there are usually no lights on so you will most likely not see anything.
The url is slightly different than that we gave previously – now it is
The native picture size is small as the bandwidth we have for upstream is not high.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Belgium Nation Day - Laying of Belgium Ribbon on Mooring Stone in New Zealand House of Parliament.

On Belgium National Day, 21 July, a Belgium Ribbon was placed on the “mooring stone” in a special ceremony attended by The Speaker of the House of Parliament, Dr Lockwood Smith, the Honorary Belgium Consul, Rowland Woods, the 2nd Secretary of the Belgium Embassy, Sophie Hottat, Mayor Adrienne Staples from Featherston and her husband Don and invited Belgium and other guests.
This was a moving ceremony where Dr Smith spoke of the close and long enduring relationship between New Zealand and Belgium. In recognition of this special bond, Dr Smith said he was very pleased, as head of the House of Parliament, to facilitate the ribbon laying ceremony.
The mooring stone is located in the Galleria which provides a thoroughfare through Parliament House ( ) . Its walls are lined with marble and granite in a similar style to the outside of Parliament House. On the floor, three types of stone form a geometric design that imitates the pattern of the steel trusses that hang above. A magnificent curved staircase links the lower and upper levels. The artwork in the Galleria features a large ‘mooring’ stone on the Galleria floor that links symbolically to the elements suspended above. Over 50 brightly coloured ribbons are attached to the stone which have been provided by national and ethnic groups in New Zealand.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

21 July - National Day in Belgium

As today is the National Day in Belgium, Russell and Raewyn Atkinson from Dunedin decided to mark it in appropriate fashion.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

some pictures of the opening in Featherston

Erica Tenquist, Rowland Woods and Sophie Hottat

Masterton District Brass Band, who played at the opening

Sophie Hottat, Belgium Embassy

Mayor Adrienne Staples and Major General Rhys Jones

An outline of speech given by Don Staples, President of Featherston Anzac Club Society

The proceedings this evening are to celebrate the arrival of the superb “Passchendaele Exhibition” in Featherston and particularly that it is here in our magnificent Anzac Hall.
A few days ago I gave a speech at a Toastmasters meeting centred on the exhibition.
I spoke of the extremely large Featherston military camp - opened on January 26th 1916 was built in 5 months, comprised 252 buildings, 8000 soldiers in training at a time, more than 30,000 men passed through the camp.
The ANZAC Club was all also completed in 1916 and opened on October 16th having been erected “for the use of the soldiers and became the favorite resort of the men out on local leave”
A dance was held every week and was greatly appreciated by the soldiers as evidenced by attendance.
A farewell dance was held in the Hall just prior to the departure of each reinforcement for the South.
They eventually marched off over the Rimutaka Hills in a body usually composed of 2,000 men. – to Trentham Camp and then on ships to France and Belgium.
I spoke of the hell of trench warfare – the outstanding success for our brave New Zealander’s at the battle of Messines – success on the day of battle when Messines was liberated but serious loss in subsequent days from enemy shellfire. -3,660 casualties 700 Dead
I also spoke of how, in the space of 4 hours at Passchendaele, we suffered 3,296 casualties and 1,190 dead.
Our soldiers left the trenches at 5am on a wet cold morning and dragged themselves through a sea of thick clay mud – ground that had been churned by months of shellfire. The barbed wire entanglements had not been cut by shellfire – only a few of our guns had arrived and those that had sunk into the mud when they were fired making it impossible to aim accurately.
Those brave young kiwis were cut to pieces by enemy machine gun fire and even our own shellfire.
Fours hours of slaughter – causality every 4 seconds.
A soldier killed every 12 seconds.
The worst military disaster NZ has ever experienced.
…. at Passendaele.
So is it not fitting in 2009 this exhibition finds its way to the ANZAC Hall where many if not most of these men enjoyed there final hours on New Zealand soil.
As John Tenquist writes in his book “ The Anzac Club Story”
- The clatter of teacups and the animated conversation of young soldiers in no longer heard in Featherston’s Anzac Hall – but the ghosts of yester-year are surely present.
I feel this every time I enter this hall.
Where else in New Zealand is there a building more connected with those brave men – the Anzac Hall is a living memorial to those who fought and died and spilt their blood on Belgium soil.
After the cessation of hostilities the Anzac Club Committee met and passed the following motion:
“That the Anzac Club be presented to the Featherston Municipal Council as a memorial to the soldiers “
This building is certainly the memorial that was intended and here in this magnificent hall, 93 years after its opening, we remember again, their sacrifice!

Outline of speech given by her worship Mayor Adrienne Staples at the official opening of the Passchendaele Exhibition in the Featherston Anzac Hall

Tena Tato Katoa
Good Evening and Welcome
It is a great honour to host this prestigious exhibition here in our historic ANZAC Hall. We believe there is no other place more fitting for these displays. Featherston has a relationship with Flanders that runs deeper and is more embedded in our history, than any other place in New Zealand. Its military history dates back to the training camp at Tauherenikau, opened in 1911 which then moved closer to town and greatly expanded to become the Featherston Military Training Camp in January 1916. The majority of soldiers who served in Flanders trained at Featherston. A good many of them would never return to our shores. As we all know, Passchendaele was New Zealand’s bloodiest battle of the Great War, where for 4 long hours a Kiwi was killed or injured every 4 seconds.
In more modern times Featherston and Messines entered into a formal twinning arrangement that now spans over thirty years. The friendship has stood the test of time and remains vitally important to both towns. If you are lucky enough to visit the small village of Messines you will find a beautiful town square with a map of New Zealand in-laid in the pavement. The only town marked on that map is Featherston.

With history like this you would think that it was fait accompli that the exhibition would come here but no! When Passchendaele Museum President Freddy De Clerc and museum Curator Franky Boston visited NZ to arrange the exhibition tour, Featherston was not even on the radar. It was only at the insistence of our good friend Rowland Woods that a visit was arranged. Don and I wished to return some of the wonderful hospitality we had experienced in Belgium so between morning tea at Cornucopia and lunch, with ample good Martinborough pinot noir and a little arm twisting, the lure of the ANZAC Hall was cemented and we secured the exhibition for Featherston. When Franky walked through the door of this hall, he looked around and he said, ‘yes, it has to come here’!
Now ladies and gentlemen a project of this size does not happen with a one-man-band and I would like to say some big thank you’s to everyone that has made it happen.
Firstly to Jo Kane for her work looking after the exhibition in New Zealand.
Next, a huge thank you to my husband Don who liaised directly with the Army to work out the logistics of delivery, organise forklifts, send me off with the horsefloat to pick up display cases, screen and of course coffee. The NZ Army are transporting all of this the length of the country so without them, it wouldn’t be here. We had a fantastic team of helpers to unpack and assist the staff from the Waiouru Army Museum who are supporting the exhibition during its tour.
Another person who deserves a special mention is Robyn Perry. Robyn has organised the very substantial roster of volunteers who are staffing the displays during the month-long stay. It’s a big job and a very vital one. Thank you Robyn and also thank you to all the volunteers themselves for donating their time to this wonderful cause. Last but not least is our resident sparky Garry Thomas. Garry has installed the security system and along with his apprentice Don, wired in several new spotlights and fixed the zip.
In closing, I very much need to thank our local sponsors:
They are listed on the back of your programme and I ask that you support them as they have supported us
Aratoi Museum of Art and History
A & G Electrics
Guten Appetit Catering
Julicher Wines
Leuven-Belgian Beer Café
The Sign Factory
Ladies and Gentlemen, please put you hands together for our friends in Belgium and all the wonderful people who have made this exhibition a reality in Featherston.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

MEDIA RELEASE | Thursday 16 July, 2009

touring exhibition to ‘go live’ from featherston – the town where the journey of thousands of new zealand soldiers, who fought at passchendaele, began.
“It rained and rained and bloody rained, and rained and rained.” - Wairarapa lad Sidney Stanfield describing the prelude to the October offensive during World War 1 that would become known as New Zealand’s bloodiest day.

The farmhand, turned stretcher-bearer, who was born in Tinui near Masterton, was one of those tasked with clearing the battlefield following the failed attack on Passchendaele on October 12th 1917, which cost 845 of our soldiers lives.

“ …at one period I believe there were 600 cases laying around in the wet and cold, just dying there where they were dumped. ……We just carried till you couldn’t carry more. You just went until you couldn’t walk really, you just went until you couldn’t walk.”

Lying about his age to enlist, Sidney Stanfield sailed to war in 1916, after completing his final eight weeks of training at the nearby military camp at Featherston.

Built in short order, Featherston Camp was little short of a wonder – a mini town with over 130 buildings including a street of small shops, offices, hospital, workshop, post office, railway siding, canteen and sixteen dining halls – all constructed in just four months.

Today the camp has been returned to farmland but Featherston’s links with Belgium remain strong.

The town twinned with Messines in 1975 and there have been a number of mutual visits and exchanges between the two over the past thirty years.

This month, the town, from where more than 30,000 New Zealand soldiers departed for the Great War, will also host the touring exhibition, Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten.

The Mayor of South Wairarapa, Adrienne Staples, says the council is honoured to host such a prestigious exhibition, further cementing the bonds between Featherston and Belgium first forged almost a century ago.

“Our connection to the Great War dates back to the Featherston Military Camp where the majority of soldiers who served then, trained before being sent to foreign shores.

“The formal twinning between Featherston and Messines thirty years ago recognised and reinforced that connection which has not only stood the test of time but remains vitally important to both towns.”

The Curator of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, Franky Bostyn, agrees Featherston is a fitting venue “given the sacrifice of those men whose journey from the ‘uttermost ends of the earth” began at this very point and ended in Flanders fields.

“It is thanks to these men who left there more than 90 years ago, who volunteered, they were not conscripted, these men who volunteered to come to Belgium to fight for our freedom, our democracy, that we are again one of the most prosperous areas in Europe.

“Yes it was a waste as a battle, but if that battle had not been fought, if your soldiers had not made that sacrifice, ah the world could have looked different if Passchendaele had not been conducted. “

Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten opens July 17 at the ANZAC Hall in Featherston, where, for the first time during its New Zealand tour, the exhibition will also be streamed live allowing visitors around New Zealand, and also in Belgium, to log in for a look. Telecom has provided the necessary broadband link to the venue at no charge.

While applauding the national telecommunications company for its patronage, South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples also acknowledges the support from locals for the exhibition.

“An army of volunteers has helped with the set-up and will staff the displays while they are here, cementing our belief, this exhibition commemorating the story of our soldiers involvement at Passchendaele, is not only keenly anticipated but also highly valued.

“We are pleased to have been able to facilitate its showing in Featherston for our community and surrounds and also on the Internet for visitors from afar to share.”

Last weekend members of Featherston’s ANZAC Club, with the help of a forklift supplied by ‘RD1’ and two army transport personnel, unloaded the packing cases housing the exhibits which then had to be man handled into the venue.

Personnel from the Waiouru Army Museum helped unpack the crates and assemble the exhibition.

Featherston Electrician, Garry Thomas, (who is also chairman of the Community Board) was on hand to install a new security system and enhanced lighting and when it was discovered the display panels would need to be free-standing, Featherston engineer, Hamish Donald, stepped in to design and manufacture ‘special’ feet on the spot.

The ANZAC Hall, which will house the exhibition, is one treasure from the days when Featherston camp was established that remains today.

Built in just four months as a place of rest and recreation, the land, building and furnishings were entirely paid for by descendants of the early Featherston pioneers as a showing of their appreciation for the soldiers in training.

Renowned throughout the Wairarapa for its fine dance floor, it has been an important venue for social gatherings in the district and continues in its role as a community hall.

Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten is open to the public from 10am to 4pm daily.

The webstream at will be active from Monday July 20th.


For more information please contact:

Lauren McKenzie
The Primrose Group
(Providing communications advise and support to the Passchendaele Exhibition)
P: 021 22 66 785

Or visit our blogsite –

Note: Sidney Stanfield was interviewed in 1988 by Jane Tolerton and Nicholas Boyack. The interview forms part of the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library, World War 1 Oral Archive OHC-002761 (side 2 of 9 – extracts 1–2); OHC-002762 (side 4 of 9 – extracts 3–5)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Set up in Featherston

Exhibition arrives in Featherston

The exhibition arrived in Featherston yesterday around 11.30am. ANZAC Club members were waiting and the larges packing cases were unloaded with a forklift which was supplied by the local “RD1” farm merchandising company. This was a real community effort. All the cases had to be manually carried into the hall – fortunately the two army transport personnel were young, fit and very strong. So along with the ‘older” ANZAC Club members they made short work of moving the cases. Around midday and right on time, two personnel from the Waiouru Army Museum, Alastair and Chris, arrived to get the unpacking and assembly under way. So with the assistance of the Anzac Club and South Wairarapa Mayor, Adrienne Staples, short work was made of the unpacking. It was about this time we realized that each display screen needed to be free standing but we did not have the necessary feet. Fortunately this was not a problem as the local expert Featherston Engineer, Hamish Donald, stepped into the breach and designed and manufactured the feet within a few hours which were much better than the originals! Waimakariri’s Jo Kane arrived mid afternoon and added her expertise to the assembly process. Also Featherston Electrician, Garry Thomas, and chairman of the Community Board, was very busy installing a new security system and applying his expertise to lighting.

Friday night was spent at the Featherston RSA where the visitors were welcomed, well watered and feed. Jo Kane gave an excellent speech on the exhibition and you could see the Featherston people swell with pride at having such an illustrious exhibition at the historic and well loved ANZAC hall.

Today, Saturday, they had an early start at 9am, and arranging the exhibition proceeded at a good pace. By mid afternoon the Waiouru Museum personnel had finished their work and were very pleased with the result. All that remained was some additional lighting to be installed. The exhibition will also be live web cast. So the next stage will be to add the cameras and necessary computer equipment. The NZ telecommunications service provider, Telecom, has very generously provided a broadband connection into the ANZAC Hall at no charge and a telephone line for the security system. The purpose of the webcast is to allow the Belgium friends to view the exhibition live. We hope this should be able to appear on the Passchendaele Blog.