Hamilton park for Belgian city
Hamilton’s relationship with Ieper (Ypres) has a new chapter following a special inauguration event in the famous Belgian city last weekend.
Ieper dignitaries hosted Hamilton Mayor Andrew King in a sod-turning event inaugurating Ieper’s new Hamilton Park.
The park in Ieper will carry Hamilton’s name in a reciprocation of Hamilton City Council’s development of the Ieper Garden at Memorial Park, adjacent to the Waikato River.
Mayor King planted New Zealand native trees at Hamilton Park, alongside the Mayor of Ieper Jan Durez.
“Hamilton and Ieper have a strong official relationship which now stretches back more than a decade,” says Mr King.
“To be part of a new chapter of that shared history is a very special moment for me, as the current Mayor of Hamilton, and as a proud Hamiltonian,” he says.
“We are very grateful to generations of Ieper residents and officials who have so carefully cared for our soldiers here in their final resting place.”
The relationship between the two cities stems from a shared history in World War I, when a contingent of New Zealanders — including the Hamilton Light Horse Brigade — served in battle in the area around Ieper.
While in Ieper, Mr King and Ieper leaders advanced discussions on updating the collaborative agreement between the two cities. This will be finalised in coming months. The visit has also included productive discussions on opportunities for collaboration involving Waikato Museum, tourism and Ieper’s Last Post Association.
Mr King’s official visit to Ieper also coincided with the 90th anniversary of the Last Post Association, which manages the nightly playing of The Last Post at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. It commemorates the sacrifice of British and Commonwealth soldiers during World War I.
The formal relationship between Hamilton and Ieper has been fostered by former Councillor Peter Bos. Delegations have made reciprocal visits on several occasions since 2006, and in 2013 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by former Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker and former Ieper Mayor Luc Dehaene.
Mayor King is on a private overseas holiday and combined his official duties at Ieper into part of his trip. His trip to Ieper is at no cost to Hamilton ratepayers.
Mayor Andrew King, his wife Anne, the Council’s Deputy Chief Executive Lance Vervoort, and former Ieper Mayor Luc Dehaene with members of Ieper’s Last Post Association at the inauguration of Hamilton Park.