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Commemorations over the next five years

In December 2009 Cabinet decided to adopt a formal commemorations policy, to be administered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage with oversight from an Interdepartmental Steering Committee. There was a need for a co-ordinated approach between agencies to mark particularly important events and anniversaries, and to ensure better forward planning for these big events.

The Steering Committee consulted widely and submitted to Cabinet a list of important events and anniversaries over the next five years which they considered worthy of recognition.  The Committee categorised these anniversaries as major national events and other national events.  They saw major as being an anniversary of an event which had a significant impact on the nation as a whole or on the pattern of New Zealand life; an example being the 100th anniversary of the First World War. 

Other national significance the Committee defined as anniversaries of events which were highly important but not of the same nation-changing magnitude as a major event.  It was agreed that nationally significant anniversaries whether major or other typically refer to 25th, 50th, 75th, and 100th anniversaries.  Exceptions were made for 60th and 70th anniversaries of battles of the Second World War and milestone anniversaries of later conflicts such as the Korean War, so that the remaining veterans of these events, who are declining in number, could be honoured.  

Military events and anniversaries dominate the list over the next five years, particularly those connected with the Centenary of the First World War, such as commemorations of Gallipoli, Passchendaele, and the Somme.  Unique events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee add interest and variety to the list and there is also the opportunity for the achievements of outstanding New Zealanders, like Jean Batten, to be recognised.  On 4 October 2010, Cabinet approved the following list (CAB Min (10) 35/4A).

Prioritised list of major and other anniversaries, 2011-2016:



Major event

70th of establishment of Royal New Zealand Navy

Other events

150th of first gold rush (Tuapeka)

100th of UK/NZ South Pole Expedition

75th of Jean Batten’s UK-NZ solo flight

70th of battles for Greece and Crete

40th of the Pacific Islands Forum


Major events

60th (Diamond Jubilee) of reign of Queen Elizabeth II

75th of establishment of Royal New Zealand Air Force

Other events

70th of Battle of El Alamein

50th of Samoa Independence and conclusion of NZ/Samoa Treaty of Friendship

25th of Maori becoming official language

95th of Passchendaele


Major event

150th of Waikato Wars

Other events

70th of War in the Pacific

60th of Korean War Armistice


Major events

100th of outbreak of First World War

75th of outbreak of Second World War Other events

75th of Battle of River Plate

70th of battles for Cassino, Italy

70th of D-Day – i.e. NZ involvement via RAF/Royal Navy/Merchant Navy


Major events

175th of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi

• 100th of Gallipoli Campaign

Other events

• 75th of Battle of Britain

• 70th of end of WW2, VE Day and VJ Day

• 50th of NZ committal of combat troops to Vietnam

• 50th of Cook Islands self government


Major event

• 100th of Battle of the Somme

Other events

• 200th of NZ’s first school

• 100th of founding of RNZRSA (originally the RSA)

• 75th of Battles of Greece, Crete, Operation Crusader (North Africa)

• 75th of founding of Royal New Zealand Navy.

Updated on 23rd July 2015