Friday, 28 August 2009

Visiting President of the Rangiora RSA, Bill Whitehead in Passchendaele

Bill Whitehead, President of the Rangiora RSA had the honour to read the Ode under the Menin Gate in Ieper/Ypres, tonight at 8 pm.

His wife and friends assist to lay a wreath on behalf of the RSA and her members after a moving Last Post and Lament in remembrance of all those who came to fight for freedom, peace and democracy.
They came from New Zealand to visit the battlefields in Messines and Passchendaele and to see their Belgian friends in Zonnebeke.
Rangiora is part of Waimakariri District and Waimakariri is twinning with Zonnebeke.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Belgians ‘beam’ live to thank their Featherston hosts

More than three thousand people visited the exhibition Passchendaele-The Belgians Have Not Forgotten, during its Featherston season, three times the expected number.

Even more are expected to have viewed it through a special ‘web cam’ link allowing visitors around New Zealand, and also in Belgium, to log in for a look.

Telecom provided the necessary broadband link to the venue at no charge.
The Chairman of the Passchendaele Museum, Freddy Declerck was able to use the Internet link to personally thank all those who had played a part in the exhibition’s success.

Speaking ‘live’ from his home in Belgium he told organisers, “Featherston was a must for us because of it’s historical significance in World War 1, but also because of the ANZAC Hall, (where the exhibition was held), - that building breathes history.
“We had expected maybe 1000 people might visit as Featherston is not a very big place, and to have three times that number, is a wonderful achievement for provincial New Zealand.
“I thank the volunteers who have worked hard to provide a wonderful experience. It is that passion and sense of ownership by the community that has made it so special.”

That passion was also evident among the hundreds of visitors, which included Barry Brook, whose uncle Lawrence Dart Brook, was killed at Passchendaele on October 12, 1917.

Barry, a piper since the age of 13, traveled from Palmerston North to play a lament for the fallen.

“Playing the pipes is the highest mark of respect I can afford my uncle and all those other young boys who fought for your country.”

The exhbition will remain In Waiouru until September 27th, when it will be transported to Auckland.

Passchendaele:The Belgians Have Not Forgotten ends its New Zealand tour at Fort Takapuna where it will be on show from 4 October to 15 November.

Army Museum Archivist’s personal tribute to lost soldiers

A year ago, Dolores Ho, the archivist at the National Army Museum, began weaving flax crosses as a tribute to the New Zealanders who lost their lives in overseas conflicts.

Her vision is to place a cross made from harakeke on every New Zealand war grave.

“The majority of soldiers have never had a visitor since the day they were buried and that prompted me to make an effort to encourage at least one visit to pay tribute, letting them have a piece of home on their graves.”

The ‘Dolores Cross’, as it has become known, was first placed on the graves of all 73 New Zealand soldiers in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire UK, on ANZAC Day 2008.

Today, almost 18 hundred of the crosses can be found on graves in 40 cemeteries, mostly in the UK, but also as far a field as Sweden.

Students from Wellington College recently placed 50 crosses on Gallipoli graves.

“Relatives with no way of visiting their loved ones can now have a photo of the grave with a flax cross and know that someone made the effort to visit and lay a tribute, to show their loved ones have not been forgotten.”

Dolores relies on volunteers to place the crosses and photograph the headstones for her database. Also in Belgium are crosses placed on headstones by Maria Vander Meiren and Sabine Vanderhaeghen, two members of the Zonnebeke city council

All Black amongst those remembered in exhibition

Wednesday 26th August, 2009

Memories of New Zealanders Honoured by the People of Belgium in New Exhibition

Close on 60,000 New Zealanders who traveled from the “uttermost ends of the earth” to the Great War became casualties during the battles for the Western Front.
18 thousand, six times the death toll at Gallipoli, would never return home.
One such soldier, who made the ultimate sacrifice, is Sergeant Dave Gallaher (32513) captain of the 1905 “Original” All Blacks”
“Dave was a man of sterling worth … girded by great self-determination and self control. He was a valuable friend and could be, I think, a remorseless foe. To us All Blacks his words would often be ‘Give nothing away: take no chances’ …”
Ernest Booth, member of the 1905 “Original All Blacks”
Dave Gallaher first saw action during the Boer War in South Africa. He enlisted again, after the death of his younger brother, on 25 July 1916 at 40 years of age and was sent overseas.
After training in England he was sent to France and joined 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment ‘in the field’. Despite his age he was extremely fit and often in the thick of the action.
The morning of 4th October 1917 was no exception as the New Zealanders began their assault on Gravenstafel Spur.
A thousand prisoners were taken in the attack for a gain of 1000 metres, in World War 1 terms, a success. But it also cost the New Zealand Division 320 lives, including that of the former All Black captain, Dave Gallaher.
Severly wounded during the assault he was admitted to the No.3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station, but died later that day.
Gallaher is buried at Nine Elms British Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium. Officially listed as 41 at his death, he was actually almost 44 years old. He had first lowered his age when volunteering to fight in the South African War in 1901.
A picture of Gallaher’s grave is one of the features in the National Army Museum’s latest exhibition, “Passchendaele - The Belgians Have Not Forgotten”, developed and built by the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.
It marks New Zealand’s involvement in one of the most devastating conflicts of the First World War, focusing on how memories of the New Zealander’s efforts during the Battle of Passchendaele, continue to occupy a place in the Belgian consciousness, more than 90 years later.
Memorial Museum Curator, Franky Bostyn, says they are particularly pleased the National Army Museum has agreed to host the travelling exhibition.
“We were priviledged, during the 90th commemorations of the Battle of Passchendaele, to host the exquisite exhibition developed by the Museum in Waiouru telling the New Zealand story of the battle and are pleased now to be able to return the favour with a Belgian tribute to the New Zealand sacrifice.”
Franky Bostyn believes the venue could not be more fitting.
“Whilst your country has tended to identify Gallipoli as the key battle of World War 1, the Somme, Messines and Passchendaele also had a profound effect on your small nation.
“It is appropriate that a museum dedicated to military history should host this exhibition honouring New Zealand’s involvement in a campaign which led to your country’s greatest military disaster, but also resulted in some of its greatest successes, without which, the world would have looked very different today.”
The exhibition – Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten - features unique copper sculptures, images and artefacts, audio-visual footage and story panels.
It is open until September 27th.
A diorama depicting attempts to save Dave Gallaher can be seen deep in the bowels of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, 1917. The scene is part of a replica dugout system modeled on those created by the New Zealanders forced to winter over, underground, where headquarters, communication posts, first aid stations and up to two thousand men were housed.


For more information:
Nicola Bannett
Marketing Managaer
National Army Museum
P: 06 387 6911
Lauren McKenzie
The Primrose Group (providing communications support to the exhibition)
P: 021 22 66 785


Dave Gallaher’s passion was rugby.
He was selected for the All Blacks in the 1903 team to Australia.
In 1904, he played against the British Team at Athletic Park and was appointed captain of the 1905 “Original” All Blacks for their tour of Britain & France.
He was a rugged flanker and the team of ‘Colonials’ earned respect for their dazzling style and magnificent record (played 25 games, won 24, lost 1; points for: 747, against: 53).
After retiring from the game he became the sole Auckland selector from 1906 – 1916.
In recent years All Black teams touring France have paid homage to Gallaher at his Belgian grave.
His name lives on in the Gallaher Shield, awarded to the winner of Auckland’s premier club competition since 1922.
A more recent trophy, the Dave Gallaher Cup, has been awarded to the winner of the first rugby test between New Zealand and France in each calendar year since 2000.

Dave Gallaher was one of 13 former All Blacks to die during the Great War, 1 in 10, of those who had worn the black jersey during the previous decade. Four of them were killed within a fortnight in June 1917 when the New Zealand Division took part in the assault on the Messines Ridge.

133 international rugby players, including the 13 All Blacks, died during the conflict.

Whilst Dave Gallaher was the most famous the other New Zealand rugby representatives to die were:

Albert Downing at Gallipoli, aged 29
Henry Dewar, at Gallipoli, aged 31
Frank Wilson, on the Somme, aged 31
Robert Black, on the Somme, also aged 31
George Sellars, at Messines, aged 31
James Baird; at Messines, aged 23
Reginald Taylor, at Messines, aged 28
James McNeece, at Messines, aged 31
‘Jum” Turtill, in France, aged 38
Eric Harper, in Palestine, aged 40
Ernest Dodd, in France, aged 38
Alex Ridland, in France, aged 36

Gallaher’s brothers Douglas and Harry who were enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces were also killed in action. A fourth brother was severely wounded in the region of the heart, while a fifth also served overseas.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Exhibition dismantled in Featherston on Sunday 16/08/09

A wonderful touch to the dismantle at Featherston
A thank you afternoon tea with some superb Wairarapa wines and lovely food for all the volunteers.
The Team had hit over 3,000 people, a wonderful achievement for provincial New Zealand.
What was so special about Featherston was the passion and the sense of ownership by the community.
They had all worked so hard to provide such a wonderful experience.
It was fantastic that one of the Belgians could thank them personally, Don created a direct link to Belgium and I could speak with the people in the ANZAC hall (early this morning in Belgium). In New Zealand it was 05.30 pm. The people of Featherston we grateful that they had the opportunity to host the exhibition but in fact it's nothing more than common sense. We said that Featherston was a must for us because of its historical significance in WWI but also because of the ANZAC-hall – that building breathes history. We are all very grateful here in Belgium for what Featherston has done for bringing your history back to the place where it belong.
Alister, Chris and Jo started to pull the Exhibition apart at 4 pm. It was a little bit sad...... It really felt like it belonged in the hall.

The Museum down the road was was opened throughout the exhibition and there volunteers manned that for longer periods than they would normally to coincide with the opening times of the exhibition. So it was very much a community effort.

Featherston, thank you very very much, especially Mayor Adrienne and her husband Don Staples.
Of course we hope to see you in Flanders when you are visiting the battlefields. Passchendaele will always be a home base for you !

Friday, 14 August 2009

Featherston exhibition will be closed on Sunday 16/08/09 at 4 pm

The exhibition closes at 4.00pm next Sunday and Mayor Staples has invited all the volunteers who have staffed the exhibition, Anzac Club members and Councillors to a closing celebration to commence at 4.30pm because everybody did a great job. Since they have the live Web Cam they will assemble everyone at 5.30pm NZT. This has been an outstanding success and a “collective thank you” would be very appropriate for all the volunteers who worked with us as an international team without knowing each other. By my calculation this would be 7.30am Belgium time!
I'll give you the link once more :
I hope it works. I want to see those New Zealand friends together, I hope with a good glass of New Zealand wine. Because here it's early morning I will only have some coffee.
We are not only grateful for the offer brought by the soldiers during the Great War but also for all those kind people helping us to bring your history back home.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

St Teresas School Project

These photographs are of projects created by the children from Featherston's St Teresa's School after their visit to the exhibition and are on display in the Hall.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Lawrence Dart Brook was just 20 when he lost his life fighting in the Great War.

The young soldier was killed, along with 844 other New Zealanders, at Passchen-daele on New Zealand’s bloodiest day, October 12th, 1917.

He is one of 1176 New Zealanders with no known grave commemorated on the New Zealand Apse at Tyne Cot Memorial, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery on the Western Front.

Like so many other young lads, Lawrence had lied about his age to go to war.

One of his three brothers, Goff, had previously been away on an excursion and he had heard stories from him, which inspired him to enlist with his hometown regi-ment.

He would be killed in action along with 194 other men of the 1st Battalion, Otago Regiment, as the New Zealanders attempted to take Bellevue Spur – the Otago’s mown down as they led the first wave against at least eight German pillboxes, without adequate artillery support.

Lawrence’s father, George, never got over his death and wore a black tie in his memory until the day he too died.

This Saturday, (August 8th) at 1pm, Lawrence’s nephew, Barry, is planning a poignant tribute to his uncle and his comrades who lost their lives during the con-flict.

Drawing on the family’s Scottish heritage, Barry Brook, will play a lament on his bagpipes outside the ANZAC Hall in Featherston where the touring exhibition Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten is currently showing.

The lament will include Amazing Grace and the Scottish Soldier.

Barry, who lives in Palmerston North, learnt the pipes when he was 13 and played with the Manawatu Scottish Society in 1944 for both VD and JDay celebrations.

“Playing the pipes is the highest mark of respect I can afford my uncle and all those other young boys who fought for our country,” he says.

The Brook family has carried Lawrence’s legacy through the generations.

Barry’s second name is Lawrence, one of his sons, David Lawrence, is named af-ter the young soldier, and the other son, “Andrew Milton” in recognition of the area down south where young Lawrence’s family first settled on their arrival in New Zea-land.

The Brook’s later establishing a homestead in Feilding when Lawrence’s father, a miller, was commissioned to run the Tui flourmill.

The exhibition: Passchendaele The Belgians Have Not Forgotten ends its season in Featherston on August 16th. Until then it remains open 10am-4pm daily.

From Featherston, the exhibition moves to the National Army Museum in Waiouru, where it opens on August 24th.

Note: Barry is planning to play his lament at 1pm on Saturday August 8th.


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 –

*To make contact with Barry or confirm timing of the lament please contact his daugh-ter, Debbie Lee, on 021 190 6616

Monday, 3 August 2009

North Shore City to remember Passchendaele

News release
For immediate release
3 August 2009

More than 18,000 New Zealand casualties, including 5,000 deaths, will be recognised in North Shore City at the 92nd anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele this October – with North Shore City Council confirming its support for commemorative activities.

The sponsorship will go towards helping to bring a travelling exhibition by the Passchendaele Memorial Museum to Fort Takapuna, along with other civic events such as a March Past, civic reception, commemoration event and a massed bands performance.

The events will be part of North Shore City’s annual Heritage Festival (October 2 – 12) and, during this period, New Zealand and Belgian flags will hang side-by-side in the North Shore’s main streets.

Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten will open at Fort Takapuna on October 4, the 92nd anniversary of the Battle of s’Graventafel – a great victory for New Zealand soldiers which opened the way for them to Passchendaele. The exhibition will run until November 15.

It features photographs, images, movies, information and artefacts highlighting the memories of New Zealanders which live on in Belgium today.

Over the past four months the display has been mounted in Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Featherston, and will soon open at the Waiouru Army Museum before making its way to Fort Takapuna.

Mayor of North Shore City, Andrew Williams says it is an honour for the city to be the final host for this tour through New Zealand.

“It is significant that North Shore City will be part of such a poignant exhibition on the 92nd anniversary of Passchendaele. Fort Takapuna is where many soldiers, including the Maori Pioneer Battalion, were in camp before heading off to represent our country, so it is fitting that the exhibition should be held at this historic military site.”

“The street march, culminating in a civic reception on Saturday 10 October, will also be a highlight and I encourage people from around the Auckland region to come along in support of our countrymen.”

Former Honorary Consul for Belgium and organiser of the exhibition, Iain MacKenzie says for many years New Zealanders have commemorated Gallipoli as the focus for our country’s involvement in World War One. But the battles on the Western Front far outweighed any losses before or since.

New Zealand lost 5,000 people in Flanders, Belgium from 1917 – 1918, more than double the number killed at Gallipoli. Passchendaele had a devastating effect on the social fabric of what was then a very small nation.

“Of all the battles fought by New Zealanders in foreign lands, there are more New Zealand soldiers buried in Belgium than in any other country,” says Mr MacKenzie.

“On October 12, 1917, which was the day of the greatest casualty, 845 New Zealand boys were killed – more than the combined total from the eruption of Mt Tarawera, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake, Tangiwai rail disaster, sinking of the Wahine and Erebus.

“The exhibition is the Belgian people’s way of demonstrating that they have not forgotten the great sacrifice made by New Zealanders 92 years ago.”

The New Zealand Division was withdrawn from Flanders in February 1918; eight months after major operations began. The division won three Victoria Crosses for bravery during this period.

Further details regarding Passchendaele commemorative activities in North Shore City will be posted to

For more information regarding the exhibition visit

Olivia Starrenburg, North Shore City Council Communications Advisor, phone: 486 8600 ext 8749 or 027 241 3165, email:,

Iain MacKenzie, Honorary Consul of Belgium (2001-2009), phone: 09 575 6202 or 027 495 5226, email: