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75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War

Crowd filling Willis Street during VJ day celebrations, Wellington, 15 August 1945. Photo: John Dobree Pascoe. Collection: Alexander Turnbull Library Ref: 1/4-001829-F

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War – a brutal war that claimed the lives of 50 million people and helped shape the world we know today.

This significant anniversary gives New Zealand the opportunity to reflect on the devastating impacts of this war on all who endured it. To acknowledge the experiences of all those who served on the front lines and at home. To recall their hopes for the future. To remember the approximately 12,000 New Zealanders who died in the war and honour those few veterans still alive today.

Commemorating the end of the Second World War – 15 August 2020

New Zealand commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War on 15 August 2020. This date – historically known as VJ Day (or Victory over Japan Day) – marks the day Japan surrendered and the end of fighting in Asia and the Pacific.

A national commemoration was scheduled to take place on Saturday 15 August at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. Regrettably, this service was cancelled due to restrictions in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below you will find a video recording with highlights from the Act of Remembrance from 15 August 2020.

Historical resources

The end of the War in Europe – 8 May 2020

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, and Governor-General, Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, recorded video messages to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8 May 2020. Due to the restrictions in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was not able to go ahead.  

Find out how New Zealand commemorated the end of the War in Europe


Updated on 24th August 2020