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South African War Commemoration March Oct 21

A march by the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles Regiment from Karori to Queen’s Wharf on October 21 will kick off a series of events in Wellington to commemorate the centenary of New Zealand's involvement in the South African (Boer) War.

Co-ordinated by the Heritage Group of the Department of Internal Affairs the events commemorate the first departure of New Zealand service personnel for an overseas conflict. The programme has been developed with help from the New Zealand Defence Force and Onward 2000, an Official Millennium Project commemorating New Zealand’s military involvement in various theaters of war,

The march, re-enacting the embarkation of New Zealand's first contingent of soldiers to the South African War exactly 100 years ago, will follow the original route as closely as possible.

Troops will leave Karori's Ben Burn Park at 10am on October 21 and will stop at Karori Cemetery to salute the grave of William Hardham, the only New Zealander to win a VC in South Africa. They will leave Parliament Building for Queen?s Wharf at 12.15pm.

Ex-servicemen and women and a group of cadets will also march from the National War Memorial in Bunny St. to Queens Wharf, arriving just before the troops.

The Governor-General, His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Hardie Boys, and the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Jenny Shipley will receive the troops at the wharf, as their predecessors did in 1899. There will be a brief commemorative ceremony during which a plaque commemorating the 250,000 servicemen and women who served New Zealand overseas during the last century will be unveiled. The Governor-General and NZRSA President, David Cox, will throw wreaths into the sea in their memory.

Other events include an international historical conference, functions for descendants of South African War veterans, exhibitions and the launch of To Fight for the Empire: An Illustrated History of New Zealand and the South African War 1899-1902 .

"New Zealand’s involvement in the South African War marked a new development in its relationship with the British Empire - the first time our troops were committed in support of the Empire in war. Ordinary New Zealanders were proud of the performance of their countrymen on the veldt,” said march organiser and Internal Affairs Heritage branch historian, Dr Ian McGibbon.

He said that 100 years ago on October 21, some 40,000 people gathered to see the troops off from the wharf.

"The whole country was .caught up in the excitement of the moment. It was like a patriotic frenzy.?

Exhibitions and commemorative functions for descendants of South African War veterans are being held by local bodies and RSA's throughout the country beginning on October 16 in Dunedin and Oct 18 in Palmerston North.


The Department of Internal Affairs has developed an extensive database of descendants many of whom have memorabilia and interesting stories to tell.

If you would like local angles for your stories please email Shirley Williams on or fax her on (04) 4957 248


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