To mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 2017, the Belgian Memorial (Laurel 'Memorial Wreath') was unveiled at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in the presence of Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand and Mr Marc Mullie, Ambassador of Belgium.
HE Ambassador Mullie and HE Dame Patsy Reddy laying a wreath at the Belgian Memorial. Photo by Mark Tantrum Photography.
The memorial recognises the enduring bonds between Belgium and New Zealand created on the battlefields and through humanitarian efforts during the First World War. It also reflects the shared sacrifice and hardship in times of conflict and remembers the thousands of graves of New Zealand servicemen who lie in Belgian soil. The ongoing relationship between New Zealand and Belgium is based on our common values and strong commitments to peace, security and multilateralism.
People placing poppies on the Belgian Memorial. Photo by Mark Tantrum Photography.
The memorial was designed by well-known Belgian artists Niko Van Stichel and Lut Vandebos. It combines the laurel wreath, a traditional symbol of victory, with the memorial wreath, traditionally used as a tribute to those who have died in battle. The 'Flanders Field' poppy and New Zealand foliage are incorporated at the centre of wreath. The underlying message of the memorial highlights the ambiguity of war and the losses incurred on all sides. A similar sculpture is installed in East Flanders, Belgium.
The sculpture is rendered in Corten steel, which naturally weathers to create a bronzed effect while providing long-term protection from the elements. The wreath appears to sit directly on the grass; the simplicity of this landscaping is intentional, to increase accessibility and enhance the impression created by the delicate and intricate steel leaf design.
Earlier 2017 ceremonies saw Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Didier Reynders attend a site blessing ceremony followed by outgoing Belgian Ambassador Jean-Luc Bodson breaking the ground at the location of the memorial. Mauri stones and soil from Belgium were placed into the ground by Ambassador Mullie at a later September 2017 ceremony.
HE Ambassador Mullie placing mauri stones at the site of the Belgian Memorial in September 2017.
The Belgian Memorial joins the Australian, Turkish and United Kingdom Memorials which have already been unveiled at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. Memorials for France, Canada, the United States and the Pacific Islands will also be installed at Pukeahu before the end of the First World War centenary period.
Updated on 16th February 2018