On 16 October 2014 the first Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails sign will be unveiled on the Wellington waterfront.
The largest single group of New Zealanders ever to leave the country at one time boarded ships or joined a convoy in Wellington harbour in October 1914, bound for the First World War. The WW100 Programme Office will mark this centenary with a ceremony on the Wellington Waterfront. A heritage trail sign describing the events that led up to the departure will be unveiled. It is the first in the Ngā Tapuwae project, which will in the future provide accurate and deep information guides and resources on site in Turkey and Europe and also online for visitors intending to travel in the footsteps of New Zealand soldiers.
The WW100 Programme Office will mark this centenary with a brief ceremony along The Promenade at Taranaki Wharf on the Wellington Waterfront at 6.30pm on the 16 October, during which the heritage trail sign will be unveiled. Proceedings will end with the 7th Battalion Band Inc. escorting guests to the Wellington City Council’s launch of its Centenary Programme and viewing of “Wellington - Lest we Forget” at the Academy of Fine Arts at 7pm.
In October 1914 ten troopships carried the approximately 8500 men and nearly 4000 horses of the Main Body and 1st Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, across the Tasman Sea initially, escorted by four warships. With Australian ships they sailed to the northern hemisphere. After training in Egypt, these troops were sent to Gallipoli, where they fought alongside their Australian comrades as ‘Anzacs’. In the years that followed, many continued on to the battlefields in France and Belgium on which New Zealand suffered its heaviest losses.
These men from all over New Zealand enlisted with a sense of duty and adventure travelling to mobilisation camps in Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin.
Communities from the deep south to the far north said goodbye to their troops with a real sense of local pride. Their departure from New Zealand was delayed, as the authorities feared that German ships might attack the transport vessels and so the troops progressively assembled in Wellington.
On 16 October 1914, Wellington residents travelled to the harbour entrance to watch the convoy depart.
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