Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Last poppies placed in newly named Arras Tunnel

Last poppies placed in newly named Arras Tunnel


Prime Minister John Key, Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson today laid the last of 273 symbolic decorative poppies on the wall of the newly named Arras Tunnel, which runs underneath the National War Memorial Park site.

The poppy tiles symbolise the 2721 New Zealand fatalities in the Anzac campaign.

Mr Finlayson announced the tunnel will be named Arras Tunnel after the French town where the New Zealand Tunnelling Company dug huge networks of underground tunnels during the First World War.

Before the final poppies were secured, the signatures of the Prime Minister and Ministers were added to those of the tunnel construction workers and two students representing neighbouring Mount Cook School on the back of the poppies.

“I have visited Arras where reminders of the New Zealand presence and contribution are still in evidence today, not solely through the memorial to the Company’s fallen soldiers erected by the town, but also by the graffiti they left in the tunnels during construction, including messages in Cook Islands Māori,” Mr Finlayson says.

“The naming of Arras Tunnel is a fitting acknowledgement of this connection.”

In November 1916, the New Zealand Tunnelling Company was assigned to Arras, where they extended the existing tunnel systems and created new tunnels capable of housing nearly 20,000 men.

In April 1917, leading up to the Battle of Arras, they tunnelled towards the German lines and laid three mines directly under their trenches, ready to detonate at the beginning of the Allied assault on the German lines on 9 April 1917. This, combined with the Allied attack, saw the German lines pushed back 11 kilometres.

After the Battle of Arras, the Company was assigned a number of tasks around Arras, such as bridge building. The tunnel system they created played an important role towards the end of the War. When the Company left France in July 1918, they had sustained 41 deaths and 151 injuries.

The tunnels were closed after the Second World War and were rediscovered in 1990. A memorial to the 41 of the Company who had died was unveiled in Arras in April 2007, 90 years after the Battle of Arras.

In February 2008, Carrière Wellington, a museum which incorporates part of the Company’s tunnel system, was opened in Arras.

The field of poppy tiles placed in the Arras Tunnel have been placed to remind tunnel users they are passing through a memorial space. The tunnel contains the stretch of State Highway One through Buckle Street which previously ran alongside the National War Memorial. The poppies, which were designed and manufactured in Wellington, are scattered sparsely along the walls at each end and are more densely clustered where the tunnel passes underneath the park.

The simple design and placement of the poppies has been through a New Zealand Transport Agency safety approval process to ensure they are not overly distracting to drivers.

There will be a public walk-through of the tunnel on Saturday 27 September before it officially opens on Monday 29 September.

The National War Memorial Park will be open in time for Anzac Day 2015.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Back Again: Government Approves TPP11 Mandate

The Government has approved a negotiating mandate for Trans-Pacific Partnership 11 (TPP11), which will ensure New Zealand businesses remain competitive in overseas markets.

Trade Minister Todd McClay says New Zealand will be pushing for the minimal number of changes possible to the original TPP agreement, something that the remaining TPP11 countries have agreed on. More>>

ALSO:

.

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice. More>>

ALSO:

Rail: Greens Back Tauranga – Hamilton – Auckland Service

The Green Party today announced that it will trial a passenger rail service between Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga starting in 2019, when it is in government. More>>

ALSO:

Housing: Voluntary Rental Warrant Of Fitness For Wellington

Wellington City Council is partnering with the University of Otago, Wellington, to launch a voluntary Rental Warrant of Fitness for minimum housing standards in Wellington, Mayor Justin Lester has announced. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty: Agreement In Principle Signed With Moriori

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct." More>>

ALSO:

Susan Devoy: Call For Inquiry Into State Abuse Reaches UN

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. More>>

ALSO:

(Not National): Cross-Party Agreement On Pike River Re-Entry

The commitment was signed this afternoon by the leaders of Labour, United Future, The Maori Party, and the Green Party and, together with the earlier commitment by New Zealand First, means that there is now a Parliamentary majority behind the families’ fight for truth and justice. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election