New Zealand National Commemoration
The New Zealand National Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele will take place at 11 a.m. on 12 October 2017 at Tyne Cot Cemetery, near Zonnebeke. This is the largest Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in the world. It contains 520 New Zealand graves and further New Zealanders are listed on the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing in the Battles of Passchendaele.
All members of the public are asked to proceed through security screening and board shuttles to the Cemetery at Bellewaerde Parking C, Frezenbergstraat, Zonnebeke. There is strictly no parking at Tyne Cot cemetery. We advise arriving at Parking C no later than 9.30 a.m. Please see the 'Where do I park?' FAQ below for map. In addition, buses will be running to and from Ieper before and after the ceremony. Please see the 'Can I catch a bus to the ceremonies?' FAQ below.
Following the National Commemoration, shuttles will return to Parking C via the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, Zonnebeke. The Museum is offering a barbeque for those attending the service; for more information and to register, please visit the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 website.
At 3pm, the New Zealand Passchendaele Centennial Memorial & Garden will be opened at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele. This event will feature elements of ceremony and music, and is open to the public.
The day will conclude with a sunset ceremony in Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood at 7.15 p.m. finishing at 8 p.m. The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing for those 388 New Zealanders who were killed in the vicinity of Polygon Wood between September 1917 and May 1918 and who have no known grave is located within this cemetery. The cemetery has 95 known New Zealand graves. There are, however, over 1600 unknown soldiers buried in this cemetery.
Buses will depart for the Sunset ceremony from Parking C, beginning at 5.45 p.m. (see map in 'Where do I park?' FAQ below). In addition, buses will be running to and from Ieper before and after the ceremony. Please see the 'Can I catch a bus to the ceremonies?' FAQ below.
Access to these commemorations is not balloted – they are open to anyone wishing to commemorate New Zealand’s military service during the First World War regardless of nationality.
From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: Special Commemorative Event and Last Post Service
At 7 p.m. on 11 October a special commemorative event with a distinctly New Zealand flavour will be held in Ieper/Ypres. Along the ramparts next to the famous Menin Gate, a video and sound show telling the story of New Zealand’s participation in Passchendaele “from the uttermost ends of the earth” will be shown. As part of the event, a ceremonial waka taua will be paddled for the first time in Flanders’ fields, by a 14-strong crew. This will be followed by the traditional Menin Gate Last Post Ceremony, strongly featuring New Zealand elements including a performance by New Zealand music legend Dave Dobbyn.
We recommend the public arrive before 6.30 p.m. for the best view of the event, and prepare for security screening – please leave bulky items at home.
Information for groups
Leaders of groups attending the New Zealand Battle of Passchendaele commemorations are encouraged to assist with planning for the centenary commemorations being held in Belgium on 12 October 2017. Having advance knowledge of the size of groups planning to attend the commemorations will assist planners with movement logistics and event timings.
Leaders of groups, such as tour, family and school groups, can contact the organisers by emailing [email protected] with the following information:
- Name of group
- How many people are in the group
This information will be used by the organisers for logistics planning only. Access to these commemorations is not balloted – they are open to anyone wishing to commemorate New Zealand’s military service during the First World War regardless of nationality.
Private vehicles will not have direct access to either Tyne Cot Cemetery or Buttes New British Cemetery for the two commemorations on 12 October. More information regarding parking and shuttles to the venues will be made available in the FAQS of this page when confirmed.
There are a number of other commemorative events taking place in the week prior to the Battle of Passchendaele centenary, which the public are welcome to attend:
- New Zealand Service of Remembrance, 9 Elms Cemetery, Poperinge – 4 October at 2.30 p.m. The Service of Remembrance will take place in the cemetery, where 151 New Zealanders are buried. There will be a tribute to the 1905 All Blacks captain Dave Gallaher who was killed on this day 100 years ago.
- New Zealand Memorial Service to mark the Battle of Broodseinde – 4 October at 4.30 p.m. The Service will take place at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial, 's Gravenstafel.
Frequently Asked Questions
The services are no longer than one hour. The National Service will be a traditional service comprising historical readings, the playing of the Last Post, recitation of the Ode, and the singing of national anthems. The Sunset Ceremony will feature both contemporary and traditional elements.
You do not have to register to attend these services. Some details of the services may change so please keep checking this page, and the New Zealand Embassy in Belgium Facebook Page, for updates. We recommend you register with SafeTravel which provides official travel advice for New Zealanders travelling overseas.
No. You should be able to stand for at least one hour during the services which are held in a grassed areas. Limited seating will be available for those who require it.
There will be limited amenities at the service including portable toilet facilities.
All visitors will need to proceed through security screening in order to attend the national service. Any items that may interfere with the experience of other attendees and/or disrupt the solemnity of the services. Items such as selfie sticks or large camera tripods and large banners or flags should not be brought into the service. If possible, please do not bring large items or bags into the service. Prohibited items will be removed from you at the security screening point.
For the National Service at 11am you will be required to park at “Parking C” of the Bellewaerde amusement park. The entrance to Parking C is on “Frezenbergstraat”. Buses will run from Parking C to the entrance of Tyne Cot cemetery. Before getting on shuttles you will be required to go through security screening, so please arrive well in advance – we recommend arriving at Parking C before 9.30am.
Following the service, shuttles will return to Parking C via the Memorial Museum Passchendaele.
In the evening, shuttles will also run from Parking C to the entrance of Buttes New British Cemetery for the Sunset Service. Once again, all visitors are requested to park at Parking C.
In addition, buses will run from Ieper to Parking C before and after both ceremonies. Please see 'Can I catch a bus to the ceremonies?' FAQ below.
On 12 October a limited number of buses will run from Ieper to Parking C, where security screening will be carried out before guests board buses on to Tyne Cot Cemetery (for the National Service) or Buttes New British Cemetery (for the Sunset Service).
Buses will return to Ieper after the services from Parking C. There are limited spaces on these buses, so registration is necessary. To register, please email [email protected] and note whether you would prefer to be on the 0830h or 0915h bus (in the morning, for the National Service) and/or the 1745h bus for the evening service.
Further information on bus pick-up in Ieper will be sent to those who register via email.
Both sites are wheelchair accessible but please note that both sites are grassed. Buses between Bellewaerde Parking C and the cemeteries are wheelchair accessible.
On the 11 October evening there will be a New Zealand focused Last Post ceremony under the Menin Gate in Ieper (Ypres) at 8pm.
Following the National Service in the morning of the 12th, buses will return guests to parking C and also offer the opportunity to get off the bus at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, where refreshments and food will be made available for purchase. Visitors may wish to visit the Museum.
In addition to these events there are a number of private initiatives being organised around this period. These include activities arranged by the New Zealand Pilgrimage Trust. For more information see https://www.facebook.com/NZPilgrimage/.