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Memorial to recognise bonds of war

Memorial to recognise bonds of war

The bond formed between Belgium and New Zealand during the First World War will be recognised today (Eds 21 July 2017) with two special ceremonies at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
Outgoing Belgian Ambassador Jean-Luc Bodson will break the ground for a new Belgian Memorial to be built in the park and unveiled in October this year, and will also unveil a model of the memorial which will be on display until October at The Great War Exhibition.

Mr Bodson said he was pleased to be acknowledging the close ties between Belgium and New Zealand.

“The battlefields of the First World War created lasting bonds between Belgium and New Zealand and commemorations like these help reinforce this friendship.

“The Belgian people will forever be grateful for the inconceivable sacrifices that were made by the New Zealanders, here and on the battle front. Let me assure you that these sacrifices are not and will not be forgotten.

“That is where the idea of the traveling exhibition The Belgians Have Not Forgotten came from. This travelling exhibition gives an insight into the landscape, the history and the ceremonies in Belgium and shows how the Great War is remembered in Belgium today.”
Ministry of Culture and Heritage Manager Heritage Projects Brodie Stubbs said New Zealand had strong and warm relations with a number of communities in Belgium.

“The First World War brought New Zealand and Belgian soldiers and communities together for a common cause.

“This memorial recognises the shared losses. Its presence at Pukeahu is a symbol of that loss but also the ongoing relationship with Belgium.”

The Belgian memorial will be one of six in Pukeahu. The Australian and Turkish memorials have already been installed, the United Kingdom memorial will be unveiled on Monday by visiting UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and memorials for France, Canada and the United States are also to be created.

The Belgian memorial was designed by well-known Belgian artists Niko Van Stichel and Lut Vandebos. The design combines the symbolism of the laurel wreath, traditionally used as a symbol of victory, and the memorial wreath, traditionally used to pay tribute to those who have died in battle. The underlying message is that there are no winners in war – losses are endured by both sides.
The long-term goal of the artists is to install several similar sculptures around the world to remember the shared experiences of war, and as a symbol of the connection between allied and enemy forces. A similar sculpture is already installed in East Flanders.


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