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Dunedin Commemorates the Departure of WW1 Troops

Dunedin Commemorates the Departure of WW1 Troops

Dunedin (Thursday, 25 September 2014) - Dunedin will turn back the clock 100 years on Sunday with a large parade to commemorate the departure of troops from Otago and Southland to the battlefields of the First World War.

Troops from around the region initially began gathering in Dunedin during August 1914 before spending five weeks training at Tahuna Park prior to their departure.

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull says this will be a chance for Dunedin to remember the early days of the massive sacrifice made by those who passed through the city on their way to serve.

"The numbers are chilling. New Zealand's population was only a million in 1914, yet 100,000 New Zealanders went overseas to serve. Of those around 18,500 were killed while another 41,000 were either wounded or became sick."

The Embarkation Day commemorations will follow the route taken by the soldiers 100 years ago. They walked from their training ground at Tahuna Park to the Oval, where they gathered before parading along Princes Street, through the Octagon and then down Stuart Street to the Dunedin Railway Station.

Sunday's events will re-enact that parade with marchers in historical period dress, period vehicles, bands, military veterans and current members of the Defence Force. Mr Cull will be joined by other Mayors and dignitaries from around the Otago-Southland region.

“Very few people who stood witness to that first parade and embarkation will still be alive, but many of the buildings which they passed as they marched along the route still stand," says Mr Cull.

"These include the banks and historic buildings of Princes Street and the Exchange, the Municipal Chambers, St Paul's Cathedral in the Octagon, the Court House and the Railway Station. They have all been part of the backdrop of so many key points in Dunedin's history and this will be another.

"Dunedin has a unique opportunity to recreate something of that day as we commemorate those who went to serve 100 years ago. I hope people will come and be a part of this."

The memorial run leaves Tahuna Park at 9.30am, followed by the Parade from the Oval at 11am. There will be a formal reception at the railway station reminiscent of the farewells that took place there for the various contingents that departed for overseas.

Once the reception is over, there will be an Edwardian market between the station and Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, featuring period themed stalls and street entertainers. Toitū will also feature series of presentations and activities centred around its exhibition Dunedin's Great War 1914-1918.

ENDS

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