Zonnebeke Delegation from the Passchendaele Battlefield Visits Waimakariri

Zonnebeke is within the Passchendaele battlefield of 1917

Zonnebeke is within the Passchendaele battlefield of 1917

The week leading up to ANZAC day saw a delegation from the Belgian district of Zonnebeke visiting. Led by Burgomeester (Mayor) Dirk Cardoen and Councillor Ingrid Vandepitte, along with Freddy Declerck of the Passendale Memorial Museum, the delegation was returning the visit made by then Mayor Jim Gerard, then Deputy Mayor Jo Kane to Zonnebeke in 2007.

Other members of the delegation were the mayoress, Rita Ghekiere and Ms Els Pottie.

Burgomeester Dirk Cardoen and Cr Ingrid Vandepitte listen to Freddy Declerck (obscured by Murray Thacker of the Okains Bay Museum)

Burgomeester Dirk Cardoen and Cr Ingrid Vandepitte listen to Freddy Declerck (obscured by Murray Thacker of the Okains Bay Museum)

It was a noteworthy occasion.  Apart from being taken to some of the region’s attractions, the delegation was welcomed on to the marae at Okains Bay, assisted in opening a Passchendaele exhibition at Our City Otautahi in Christchurch and played their part in the ANZAC Day services in Kaiapoi and Rangiora.

The growing reationship between Zonnebeke and Waimakariri is founded on the memory of those men from the District who died in the Battle of Passchendaele.

The Passchendaele Exhibition at Our City Otautahi

The Passchendaele Exhibition at Our City Otautahi

On 12 October 1917, 845 New Zealanders were killed in one morning at Passchendaele, Belgium. This was the greatest loss of life in a single day in New Zealand’s history – more than the combined total of deaths from the eruption of Mt Tarawera, the Hawke’s Bay earthquake, the Tangiwai rail disaster, the sinking of the Wahine and the Air New Zealand plane crash on Mt Erebus.

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