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New Zealand War Dead Honoured in South Africa

A memorial to 23 members of the New Zealand 7th Contingent who lost their lives in the Battle of Langverwacht in February 1902 is being re-dedicated in South Africa this week.

The ceremony will take place at the original burial site near the battlefield at 12 noon Sunday, 22nd February 2009, the day before the 107th anniversary of the battle.

“The South African (‘Boer’) War of 1899-1902 was the first overseas conflict to involve New Zealand troops. Langverwacht was a key battle in the conflict. With 23 soldiers killed and 41 wounded, this was New Zealand’s costliest battle of the Boer War,” said Neill Atkinson, Acting Chief Historian, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

“The re-dedication is a simple commemoration to remember the New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives on South African soil 107 years ago. We are here to pause and think about them and their sacrifice,” said Geoff Randal, New Zealand High Commissioner to South Africa.

“As we now work to build new connections and further strengthen the bond between our two countries, it’s interesting to have this opportunity to think back on the substantial contact New Zealand and South Africa have had in the past,” Mr. Randal said.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is funding the restoration of the 1903 memorial cairn.  The cairn was damaged when part of a 100-year-old oak tree, planted when it was first built, fell on it crushing the monument and breaking the marble tablet in two.  In the 1960s, the soldiers were reburied 30 kilometres away in the Garden of Remembrance in the Vrede Public Cemetery.

The New Zealand High Commission in Pretoria has overseen the rebuilding of the cairn on behalf of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

For additional information see attachments.  Historical photographs of the soldiers are available on request.

Updated on 23rd July 2015