Oamaru to mark start of WW1

SHARE

The declaration of World War 1 will be marked with a commemorative ceremony in Oamaru on August 5.

The ceremony, jointly organised by the RSA and the Waitaki District Council, will be held at the monument on lower Thames St at 11am.

Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher, who is on the organising committee, said he was pleased the district’s contribution to the war effort would be commemorated.

“It is an important date in our history.

“It was a time when we followed Britain into a war which was to be fought largely on the other side of the world and in which New Zealand was to ultimately lose many of its people.”

Following the declaration on August 5, 1914, which was made by then New Zealand prime minister William Massey, the country’s participation in the war began.

Among the dominions of the British Empire, New Zealand had the highest percentage of its military-age men killed.

The loss of 18,166 men and women amounted to 5 per cent of the total population.

“This is a chance for us to honour those who went off to fight for King and Country on behalf of all those left at home,” he said.

There will be a number of guest speakers, including Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and representatives of Waitaki’s three RSA branches.

“This is a chance to reminisce on the emotive and patriotic fervour of the time, tempered with the realities of war once our men actually went into battle,” Mr Kircher said.

“This will be the first in a series of commemorations from the First World War.”

The organising committee is also planning further events up until 2018, when the centenary of the end of the war will be commemorated.

North Otago RSA president Ian McKay was unavailable for comment.

The Homefront North Otago 1914-18, a book which has been written and compiled by Oamaru man Graeme Leather in conjunction with the North Otago Museum, will also be launched on the same day.

The launch will be held at the North Otago Museum on August 5, starting at 6pm.

The declaration commemoration will be held at the monument on lower Thames St outside the council building on Tuesday, August 5, at 11am.

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD

LEST WE FORGET: North Otago Museum archivist Chris Meech with a copy of ‘The Homefront North Otago 1914-18’ outside the memorial where the commemoration will be held.