Armistice Day Centenary

Today is the centenary of celebrating Armistice Day, which marked the end of the unprecedented death and destruction of World War 1.

Like many, probably most New Zealanders, I have family connections. Both my grandfathers fought in the war, and were lucky to survive (one was badly injured), otherwise I would never have existed. There was a huge casualty rate, with 18,000 New Zealanders killed and tens of thousands more injured.


Armistice centenary – 11 November 2018

At 11am on 11 November this year, Aotearoa New Zealand will mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. On that day 100 years ago, after four years of brutal conflict, war finally gave way to peace.

The First World War had taken 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. Families and communities back home felt these losses acutely.

When news of the Armistice reached our shores it was met with thanksgiving, hopefulness and joyous noise.

The Armistice centenary gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the loss and trauma of the First World War, as well as reflect on peace and hope at the centenary of its closure. As well as joining together in remembrance, we can recapture the relief and jubilation of that important day a century ago.





At 11am on 11 November 1918, after four years of brutal conflict, the First World War finally came to an end. When news of the Armistice reached New Zealand it was met with widespread thanksgiving, celebration and a lot of noise.

“There were songs and cheers, miscellaneous pipings and blastings, and tootings and rattlings—a roaring chorus of gladsome sounds.” – Armistice celebrations in Wellington described in The Evening Post, 12 November 1918

100 years on, we want to recapture this energy and we invite you to join us.

How can you be involved?

On Sunday 11 November, a two minute silence will be observed at 11am to acknowledge the immense loss and hardship endured throughout the war. Following this, we encourage organisations and communities to gather whatever ‘instruments’ they have at hand, and help create a roaring chorus of jubilant sound that once again celebrates peace and hope for the future.

The brief is wide open, you could ring bells, sound sirens, or toot horns. You could sing a waiata, beat drums or play music. You could incorporate something upbeat into an event you already had planned or do something stand alone. Anything goes.

Download an information sheet about the Roaring Chorus (PDF, 421 KB)

Leave a comment


  1. This movie by Peter Jackson, where war footage has been coloured and had audio added, has given the war a more realistic look:

    • Missy

       /  11th November 2018

      I got to see that at its premier for the BFI festival, it was incredible to watch and amazing in a big screen. What was really interesting is that after the viewing Peter Jackson did a Q&A which really gave a lot of insight into how it was done and what he wanted to achieve. In typical Jackson fashion he said they only had a budget for a 30 min film but he didn’t think that was long enough to tell the story he wanted to so he made a longer film with no extra budget.

      I think this is really worth watching.

  2. Reply
  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  11th November 2018

    I am watching it on One.

    None of my relations were there, as far as I know; one grandfather was too young; I have a photo of him and a brother in cadet uniform. My other grandfather was quite old when my father was born, and I know nothing about him.

    Phil Goff spoke about the tragedy of mothers losing sons….what about their fathers?

    By Siegfried Sassoon

    I knew a simple soldier boy
    Who grinned at life in empty joy,
    Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
    And whistled early with the lark.

    In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
    With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
    He put a bullet through his brain.
    No one spoke of him again.

    You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
    Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
    The hell where youth and laughter go.

    • “Crumps” are the sounds of shells; the subject is suffering from shell-shock and the constant fear of being blown to pieces affects the soldiers’ mind immensely. Even at the slightest hint of a sound of a shell or any other frightening noise and soldiers would immediately be stricken with fear.

      “Lice” is used by Sassoon to represent all kinds of hygienic and sanitary issues that existed in trench warfare; disease and hygienic problems (e.g. fungal infections, blisters, typhoid, flu, hypothermia, lice, rats) ran rampant among the soldiers in the trenches.

      “Rum” represents the fact that the soldier did not have anything to cheer him up or give him a boost in morale.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  11th November 2018

        I wouldn’t blame anyone for committing suicide, deserting or deliberately wounding themselves just to get out. I was in Ypres on one Armistice day, and it was so bad that we kept getting lost on the way. The sleet was ferocious. We were so late that they thought that we hadn’t been able to come and the vicar was just announcing that Fr Ignace wouldn’t be preaching when I ran in to say that we had made it. The cold was terrible even to someone who was used to European winters by then, The wind was blowing the wreaths off the Bridge. Every column was covered with names, and some were along the lines of ‘John Smith, enlisted as Fred Brown, aged 15 (or even 14)’

        And in November the winter still has months to go. I can’t even imagine fighting there and sheltering in a trench.

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  11th November 2018

    As i recall many of the Fraser Labour govt during ww2 had been conscientious objectors during ww1 and the terrible death toll of NZers under British command in that war led Fraser to be very cautious in how he would allow the NZers to be deployed in ww2.

    • PartisanZ

       /  11th November 2018

      Yet campaigns like Greece, Crete and Monte Cassino speak of equal ineptitude and foolhardiness among British and/or New Zealand commanders …

  6. PartisanZ

     /  11th November 2018

    Thoughts as Armistice Day + 100 years draws to a close …

    By 11pm on 11 November 1918 I wonder how many New Zealanders were asking themselves, “What was it all for? All this death, suffering, misery and destruction?”

    For God, King & Country … we’re always told … and to preserve our freedom and our way of life, … and perhaps it did do that, although I’m more dubious about the warlike intentions of WW1’s protagonists than those of possibly any other war … The Central Powers weren’t fascist, they were arguably as democratic as the Allies … and equally as Imperialistic.

    How much of New Zealand’s “sacrifice” was ‘Blood for Butter’?

    “When the war (WWI) finally ended it was necessary for both sides to maintain, indeed even to inflate, the myth of sacrifice so that the whole affair would not be seen for what it was: a meaningless waste of millions of lives. Logically, if the flower of youth had been cut down in Flanders, the survivors were not the flower: the dead were superior to the traumatized living. In this way, the virtual destruction of a generation further increased the distance between the old and the young, between the official and the unofficial.”

    ― Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New

    Hughes raises the horrible spectre that through annual “commemoration” we are held in the grip of a kind of collective ‘survivor guilt’ …

    Could this be preventing us from asking some hard questions? From critically re-evaluating? From extending our reach? From changing …?

    Did Britain go to war to save “poor little Belgium” or, as Chris Trotter [and others] assert, “in the hope that between them, France and Russia would destroy her greatest economic rival”?

    It was poignantly shown me today that you can’t speak about “those New Zealanders who made the final sacrifice for our country and to preserve our way of life” prior to WW1 or perhaps the Boer War at the earliest …

    When we refer to the NZ Land Wars, which New Zealanders are we talking about?

  7. The Consultant

     /  11th November 2018

    Speaking of Chris Trotter:

    The tragedy of the past four years is that, for the most part, the politicians and propagandists of 2014-2018 appear to share Lloyd George’s breath-taking cynicism. Whether it be Sir Peter Jackson’s larger than life heroes; or the fusillade of revisionist war histories unleashed by military writers determined to gun down the comic accuracy of the final Blackadder series; allowing the people to know the truth about World War I seems to be as impossible as ever.

    All history is revisionist. I note that Trotter’s Baby Boomer generation has had no problems with the revisionist history that developed in the 1960’s on many subjects, but especially our war history. The pendulum has simply swung back a little against the Blackadder view of WWI.

    And this three part series is a good example, The Long Shadow, Part 1. Historian David Reynolds has some interesting points to make about the war poets as well!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s