Posts Tagged ‘Zonnebeke’

The Belgians Have Not Forgotten – Passchendaele Exhibit in the Council Chambers, Rangiora

11 September 2017


The Belgians Have Not Forgotten, an exhibition that reminds us of the huge sacrifices that our country made in the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917 is on display in the Council Chamber in Rangiora.  We have been fortunate to get it near the end of a tour of Australia and New Zealand, between its Christchurch and Dunedin appointments.

This, of course, is the battle’s centenary year.  The Passchendaele battlefield is within the Municipality of Zonnebeke, which has a twinning relationship with Waimakariri.

All are welcome.  It is open during office hours.


Belgian National Day Recognised in Waimakariri 

22 July 2016

A pity the wind didn’t blow yesterday but the Belgian flag flew to commemorate Belgium’s national day. Waimakariri has a twinning relationship with the municipality of Zonnebeke on the Passchendaele battlefield.

ANZAC Day 2015 Commemorated in Belgium

27 April 2015

The following link is from the blog of Freddy Declerck, a very good friend of New Zealand, and it records some of the events about the time of this year’s ANZAC Day.

The municipality of Zonnebeke includes the Polygon Wood and Buttes New British cemeteries which commemorate New Zealanders and Australians who died in this area near Ypres (Ieper) during World War I.

Freddy Declerck is a former Belgian naval officer and the recently-retired director of the Passchendaele Memorial Museum in Zonnebeke, which features a section on New Zealand.  He is, as you would expect, extremely knowledgeable about New Zealand’s involvement and is a wonderful guide.

Waimakariri has a twinning relationship with the Municipality of Zonnebeke, the area of which includes the site of the Battle of Passchendaele and other battles at about that time.

Passchendaele Remembered

12 October 2012

New Zealand and Belgian flags fly at half-mast in Rangiora in memory of those who died at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.


Troops from 2nd Brigade and 3rd (Rifle) Brigade advanced at 5.25 a.m. in drizzle that soon turned to driving rain. As they struggled towards the ridge in front of them, they found their way blocked by the uncut barbed wire. Exposed to raking German machine-gun fire from both the front and flank, the New Zealanders were pinned down in shell craters in front of the wire. A few determined individuals tried to get through the barrier, but they were quickly killed.

Orders came for another push at 3 p.m., but this was mercifully postponed and then cancelled. The troops eventually fell back to positions close to their start line. For badly wounded soldiers lying in the mud, the aftermath of the battle was a private hell; many died before they could be rescued.

The toll was horrendous. There were more than 2700 New Zealand casualties, of which 45 officers and 800 men were either dead or lying mortally wounded between the lines. In terms of lives lost in a single day, this remains the blackest day in New Zealand’s post-1840 existence.

World War I NZ Soldier to be Re-Buried in Belgium

2 February 2012

We have received the following message from Freddy Declerk of Zonnebeke, Waimakariri’s sister district in Belgium.

The remains of soldiers from World War I battles are frequently found on the past battlefields of Flanders and France.

Dear Friends, 

Mayor  Dirk Cardoen and I from Zonnebeke will attend the reburial of a NZ soldier, tomorrow Friday at 3 PM local time.

The soldier is from the Rifle Brigade and died on June 7th 1917 during the attack on Messines.

We will have a wreath on behalf of the people of Zonnebeke and Waimakariri.

The NZ Minister of Defense will attend together with the Defense Chief, a Belgian Minister and other dignitaries.

 Kind Regards from the cold Flanders Field ( – 6 C°  but with the wind it feels as – 15 C°)

 Kind Regards/Vriendelijke Groeten

Freddy Declerck

Genootschap Passchendaele Society 1917 vzw


 Tel 057 48 94 02

GSM: 0474 91 32 46

Zonnebeke Delegation from the Passchendaele Battlefield Visits Waimakariri

18 May 2009
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.

%d bloggers like this: