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Minister marks 97th anniversary of Great War

Minister marks 97th anniversary of Great War

New Zealanders will never forget the great debt they owe those who served in the First World War, Veterans' Affairs Minister Judith Collins said today on the 97th anniversary of the start of the conflict.

On August 4, 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany following the German invasion of Belgium. New Zealand, as part of the British Empire, was quick to support the war and volunteer troops.

A total of 120,000 New Zealanders enlisted during the course of the war, with just over 100,000 serving overseas. Around 18,500 New Zealanders died and nearly 50,000 more were wounded during the war.

"While the fighting took place on the other side of the world, the terrible human toll of this conflict touched every community and reached into every home in New Zealand," Ms Collins said.

"New Zealand's young men and women were proud to do their part for a more peaceful world. They served with courage, loyalty and honour - characteristics that we continue to respect today."

New Zealand's involvement in the First World War began with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force capturing German Samoa. Later, New Zealand troops saw service at Gallipoli, the Western Front and in the Sinai-Palestine campaign.

"The actions and sacrifices of our men and women in the First World War helped to define New Zealand as a nation and shape the country in which we live today.

"Despite the passing of the years, we will never forget the great debt we owe them."

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