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New Zealand’s First World War commemorations in Belgium

News: 17 February 2017

The centenaries of the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele will be the focus for New Zealand’s international First World War commemorations in 2017.

On 7–9 June 1917 the New Zealand Division took part in the capture of the Messines ridge, a successful but costly battle. During the battle the Division suffered 3,700 casualties, including 700 deaths.

On 7 June 2017, New Zealand’s contribution at the Battle of Messines will be commemorated in Mesen, Belgium. There will be a national ceremony commencing at 8 a.m. in Messines Ridge British Cemetery. The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing in this cemetery lists 827 names of soldiers who died in the area and have no known graves. The day will conclude with a sunset ceremony at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial on Nieuw-Zealanderstraat, Mesen.

New Zealand experienced its darkest day during the Battle of Passchendaele, with the loss of 842 soldiers on the 12 October 1917. This devastating loss of life still remains the highest one-day death toll suffered by New Zealand forces overseas.

New Zealand will commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 2017 with a national ceremony at Tyne Cot Cemetery, near Zonnebeke, Belgium, at 11 a.m. This is the largest Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in the world and it contains 520 New Zealand graves. To end the commemoration there will be a sunset ceremony in Buttes New British Ceremony in Polygon Wood.

There is no ballot or restriction on numbers for those wishing to attend these commemorations in Belgium.

Information about the First World War commemorations being held in Belgium can be found at

  • Learn about the Battle of Messines and Passchendaele on NZHistory

  • For those travelling to Belgium for the commemorations, please visit Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails. The trails will guide you through historic Belgian landscapes significant to New Zealand during the First World War.

Updated on 21st July 2017