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Celebrating Compassion – Remembering New Zealand’s support for Belgium
During the First World War, thousands of New Zealanders joined together to raise more than £800,000 for the Belgian Relief Fund – that would be equivalent to $100 million today!
In the lead up to New Zealand’s centenary commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele this October, WW100 is highlighting the support these dedicated New Zealanders gave to Belgium and its refugees.
At the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917, New Zealand faced the darkest day in its post-1840 existence, enduring a staggering 842 deaths in a single day.
Leading into October, WW100 is encouraging New Zealanders to remember the support New Zealand gave to Belgium both on the battlefield and back at home.
“New Zealand’s bond with Belgium was not only forged on the battlefield, but also through humanitarian efforts. WW100 is exploring these efforts through the theme of compassion,” says WW100 Director, Libby Masterton.
Through reflecting on the compassion shown during the First World War, WW100 is asking New Zealanders to consider what compassion means to them, and getting involved by creating their own projects, activities or events that relate to compassion.
“It could be as simple as donating food or pre-loved goods to your local charity, celebrating someone in your local community who is providing compassion to others, or organising a coin trail at your school or business,” says Libby.
The plight of those living in the war zones drove many New Zealanders to volunteer their services and donate money to help the war effort.
“Socks were knitted, clothing donated, and fundraisers held – New Zealanders rallied together to show compassion towards those on the other side of the world,” says Libby.
This story of hope and compassion is brought to light through the work of a group of New Zealand women, who made it their mission to fundraise for the Belgian Relief Fund.
“WW100 has been inspired by the thirty-three women in New Zealand who were awarded the Queen Elisabeth Medal by Belgian government in honour of their outstanding services in providing aid to Belgian refugees during the First World War,” says Libby.
These women included Mary Wick, who dedicated herself to selling vegetables and flowers from her Takapuna garden, Elizabeth Pinfold, who wrote to newspapers all over the country calling for donations and Mary Downie-Stewart, who organised working bees to send clothing to Belgian refugees.
“WW100 wants to shine a spotlight on these women and others, who in extremely difficult circumstances, still made it their duty to support the Belgians,” says Libby.
A hundred years ago, New Zealand came to the aid of those who needed help—remember and celebrate their compassion, visit WW100.govt.nz/compassion.
Animated video: WW100 has created a video that brings to light New Zealand’s compassion during the First World War and in particular focuses on three New Zealand women who were awarded the Queen Elisabeth Medal. Watch the video on YouTube. Feel free to embed this video on your digital platforms. If you require a higher res file, we can provide one.
For more information, please contact WW100 Senior Communications Advisor Clare Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous press releases
- Valuable insights into the First World War showcased at Pukeahu (13 September 2016)
- Winners announced for the #MyAnzacDay photo competition (12 May 2016)
- Kiwi personalities to judge #MyAnzacDay photo competition (17 April 2016)
- Launch of #MyAnzacDay photo competition (11 April 2016)
- First World War commemorations focus on Western Front in 2016 (27 January 2016)
- A second Christmas (18 December 2015)
- National ceremony to mark the centenary of the Battle for Chunuk Bair (5 August 2015)
- Chunuk Bair centenary marked at Pukeahu on 8 August (1 July 2015)
- WW100 marks the centenary of the Gallipoli landings (2 April 2015)
- WW100 Toolkit for groups (7 November 2014)
- WW100 Director Appointed (23 October 2014)
- WW100 commemorative pin available for purchase from 24 October 2014 (17 October 2014)
- Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails Interpretive Sign Unveiled (17 October 2014)
- New Zealand Centenary of Departure of Troops (15 October 2014)
- Marking the Centenary of New Zealand's Occupation of Samoa (29 August 2014)
- New Zealand Marks the Centenary of the Occupation of Samoa (25 August 2014)
- Marking the announcement of War, First World War (4 August 2014)
- New Zealand first to mark First World War centenary (29 July 2014)
- WW100 First World War Centenary Programme announced (28 July 2014)
- Youth Representatives Depart for Paris (7 July 2014)
- Four young New Zealanders chosen for Bastille Day commemorations (3 June 2014)
- Calling young New Zealanders qui parlent Français (1 May 2014)
- Gallipoli ballot special passes allocated (24 April 2014)
- Third round of WW100 lottery grants announced (17 April 2014)
- Results of the Gallipoli 2015 ballot announced (31 March 2014)
- History of New Zealand’s involvement in First World War launched (11 November 2013)
- Second round of WW100 lottery grants announced (6 November 2013)
- Anzac Day at Gallipoli 2015 - ballot dates confirmed (31 October 2013)
- The White Ships – peaceful sailing in the First World War (8 October 2013)
- Military commemoration dates announced (19 September 2013)
- National War Memorial Park on target (29 May 2013)
- Principles of Gallipoli 2015 ballot announced (13 May 2013)
- First World War Centenary projects funded (24 April 2013)
- New Zealand understanding of WW1 – a benchmark survey (9 April 2013)
- Life, Love and War 100 Years Ago Today (9 April 2013)
- Ballot numbers for Gallipoli 2015 confirmed (12 February 2013)
- Australian Memorial design unveiled (11 February 2013)
- First sod turned for National War Memorial Park (29 October 2012)
- Work starts on National War Memorial Park (28 September 2012)
- Public asked for views on Gallipoli 2015 ballot (26 September 2012)
- Dynamic hub for WW100 commemorations (19 September 2012)
- National War Memorial Park Bill Passes First Reading (31 August 2012)
- Trusted New Zealanders appointed to WW100 Centenary Panel (16 August 2012)
- New National War Memorial Park to be ready for Anzac centenary (7 August 2012)
- Two milestones for WW100 commemorations (17 July 2012)
- Government announces First World War Centenary plans (31 August 2011)