The 4th August marks the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War One when King George V declared war on Germany and in doing so New Zealand, as part of the British Empire, found itself at war. To mark this anniversary and kick-off its interesting programme of commemorations, the National Army Museum in Waiouru are hosting a week long World War One film festival from 4th-10th August.
Known at the time as the Great War, New Zealanders were generally very supportive upon hearing of the declaration with crowds gathering in towns to cheer and sing patriotic songs.
The war saw a growing recognition of New Zealanders in their own right but this new identity had come at a huge price. New Zealand’s population was just over a million at the outbreak of war with 100,444 New Zealanders serving overseas or 10% of the population.
Of these 18,166 died and over 41,000 were wounded which equated to over 59,000 causalities out of an eligible male population of just 240,000.
Many of those who returned outwardly unharmed were mentally scarred. Many men who could have been New Zealand’s leaders after the war withdrew from public life content with the quiet homes to which they had returned. Nearly every family in New Zealand was affected.
Those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice are remembered on the National Army Museum’s ‘Roimata Pounamu – Tears On Greenstone’ roll of honour.