At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the guns fell silent as the war that had capitulated the world into unprecedented grief and devastation came to an end.
The Great War took a huge toll on New Zealand. Around 100,000 New Zealanders – or ten percent of the population at the time – served overseas during the war, and over 18,000 lost their lives. In Hawea District, Pembroke/Wanaka and Cardrona it is estimated that 208 men and women went to serve. Forty-eight of them lost their lives.
Armistice Day has always been an occasion of sombre reflection however 100 years ago, it was a day of extraordinary celebration and unrestrained joy. Here is an abridged excerpt from ‘The Cromwell Argus’ on the occasion of Armistice:
“On Thursday at midday when the terms of the armistice became known, a fresh start was made. A large crowd soon collected, and everyone seemed to be bubbling over with happiness. Songs, speeches, choruses and marches were the order of the day. A procession round the block was a notable feature and quite a success. The band gained fresh laurels as did the conductor. In the evening about fifty, all in fancy dress, motored into Hawea, and after calling on some of the residents, made their way to the hall. It was a noisy, merry crowd, with plenty of life and color that marched round the hall singing patriotic songs. The Hawea people were quickly on the scene and entered into the spirit of the affair. Dancing was then indulged for about two hours… the Hawea folk brought along a liberal supply of refreshments. The Pembroke folk arrived back about 10.30 and dancing was continued until midnight. Nothing ever more successful or enjoyable has ever been held here, people threw their cares to the winds and did not worry over-much about their dignity. One continually heard the remark; “If we could not rejoice on this occasion, then we never would!”
Hawea Armistice Commemorative Service 2018
On Sunday, the public are invited to gather at 10.15am in the Peter Fraser Park to walk down to the ANZAC memorial. The walk will be accompanied by a pyrotechnic sound show which replicates the deafening sound of WWI artillery. It will be loud so headphones are recommended for babies and small children. The march will be led by a WWI ambulance, accompanied by a piper and drummer, and the Lake Hawea Volunteer Fire Brigade. At the memorial at 11am, the artillery will fall silent as it did 100 years ago. There will be numerous tributes read and Bella Fraser, Head Girl of Mount Aspiring College, will read the Roll of Honour to commemorate the 15 people from Hawea District that died. Each of the fallen will have a cross placed on the memorial in their honour. Following the commemoration service, the public are invited to join together at a luncheon being provided by the HCA and the Hawea Youth Group, at the Lake Hawea Community Centre. Here there will be displays, including a WWI tank, three readings and a song reflecting the soldiers' and nurses' experiences of WWI.
Parking is available at: the Lake Hawea Community Centre; on the north side of Peter Fraser Park off Capell Avenue, and; the Contact Energy parking area at the south west end of the Lake Hawea Dam, and through the gate with the big red poppy adjacent to the garage.
Wanaka Armistice Commemorative Service 2018
The public is invited to gather at the Cenotaph on Chalmers street, at 10.45am.
The parade will be called to order by Commander Lyal Cocks RNZN (Rtd) followed by a two-minute silence at 11am. At 11.05 there will be a flyover of appropriate aircraft.
Proceedings will then include speeches, the laying of wreaths and the sounding of the Last Post. Matilda Metcalfe, a Year 8 student from Mount Aspiring College will sing the national anthem. The parade will then be dismissed but everyone is invited for morning tea at the St John Rooms on Link Way.