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WWI NZ Soldiers to be Honoured in France


World War 1 New Zealand Soldiers to be Honoured in France

Associate Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Mahara Okeroa, is to represent New Zealand at two ceremonies recognising the role played by kiwi soldiers in France during World War 1.

The opening of the tunnellers’ museum, Carrière Wellington, in Arras this week marks the efforts of the New Zealand Tunnelling Company which, in 1916/17, constructed a series of tunnels underneath Arras, a town close to the German lines. This allowed for the safe placing of mines under German positions and access to the German lines.

“We are deeply grateful to the Arras Town Council for establishing the museum and opening up the tunnels to the public for the first time in many years. I am sure it will become a site of pilgrimage for descendents of the courageous kiwi tunnellers for years to come,” said Mahara Okeroa.

Minister Okeroa will mark another piece of New Zealand history at a handover ceremony in the town of Albert when he receives the identity tags of a World War 1 kiwi soldier.

The tags, belonging to Richard Kemp (also known as Richard Keepa) of Te Aupouri iwi in Te Kao, were found by a six-year-old Albert school girl on the nearby Somme battlefields.

“Richard Kemp survived the war and came back to Te Kao. Fortunately for his whanau his identity was still visible on the weather-beaten tags and I’m honoured to be bringing them home on their behalf,” said Mahara Okeroa.

Mr Okeroa will also visit Le Quesnoy which continues to mark New Zealand’s role in its history. Just a week before the end of the war in November 1918 the New Zealand Division captured the town in their last major action in the war.

Schedule (local time) 11am, Thursday 14 February: Handover ceremony of identity tags, Albert Town Hall 6pm, Friday 15 February: Museum opening and ceremony in Arras Saturday 16 February: Visit to Le Quesnoy

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