Passchendaele Museum with Local Connection Celebrates 15th Birthday

Published: 18-Apr-2019

Alongside the usual Anzac Day commemorations over the coming week, will be a special anniversary observed on April 23.  That day marks the 15th birthday of the Memorial Museum of Passchendaele 1917 in Zonnebeke, Belgium.  The Waimakariri District Council has a twinning relationship with the Municipality of Zonnebeke and a number of official and personal visits have taken place between the two districts over recent years.

Council staff member, Adrienne Smith, travelled to Zonnebeke in 2016 and was officially recognised as the museum’s 1,000,000th visitor.  She was asked to record a video message for the Museum’s birthday celebrations alongside another New Zealander, Sir Peter Jackson, who also sent his well wishes via a video. The video compilation of birthday messages sent to the Museum from around the world can be viewed below.

In September 2017, the Council Chambers in Rangiora hosted the “The Belgians Have Not Forgotten” exhibition which displayed information and photographs, and commemorated the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele.

In March 2018, a new pathway between Kaiapoi and Rangiora was opened and officially named the Passchendaele Memorial Path in recognition of the lives lost during the Battle.

The Battle of Passchendaele, sometimes known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was one of the bloodiest of the First World War. During 100 days of 1917 there were an estimated 500,000 casualties. A large number of New Zealanders fought and lost their lives, particularly on 12 October 1917 where 846 young New Zealanders were killed in the first four hours of the attack towards the village of Passchendaele.

D Company from Rangiora and C Company from Kaiapoi were part of the Canterbury Regiment that fought in the area. Preliminary research shows that at least seven men from the district lost their lives.

The impact of the World Wars on this region of Belgium was significant and remembering those events remains of great importance to the people of both countries.  In recognition, wreaths are laid at Anzac Day services in Kaiapoi and Rangiora each year on behalf of the people of Zonnebeke, Belgium.