Hamil­ton park for Bel­gian city

Hamilton News - - Front Page -

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.

Photo / Sup­plied

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.

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