Purple Poppy Day


Most people are unaware that as well as the traditional commemorative red poppy there is also the purple poppy. It symbolises all animals who have served and/or died during conflict. It is estimated that more than 8 million animals sacrificed their lives in World War I alone. As a way to commemorate the animals that have served and those that continue to, you can wear a purple poppy. Let us remember these brave animals, their deeds, and their sacrifices.

On Purple Poppy Day, 24 February each year, the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa remembers and honours the animals that have served (and still do serve) in war and conflict. 

Our mascot for Purple Poppy Day 2023 was Scout Sergeant Major Paddy. Learn more about Paddy here.


To love unconditionally, to serve unquestionably… They were the animals.


On Friday 24 February 2023 at 11am we held our Purple Poppy Day service outside the Museum at our War Animals Memorial. We gave a special mention to all the animal friends who came along (we had two beautiful horses, an abundance of dogs, and even a chicken). We also made special mention of the animals affected by Cyclone Gabrielle the week before – our thoughts were with them, their human companions, and all those affected. 

Our guest speaker was Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Murray, Commanding Officer of the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles. He gave a moving tribute to the horses of our past military and reflected on the sacrifice of all animals who have served alongside our soldiers. Thank you to all those who attended from our community, and from further afield representing your various organisations, units and groups. You helped make our service special and significant, honouring the animals that have served loyally and sacrificed so much in our military history. 


2023 Purple Poppy Day