Town falls silent to mark the Armistice
Grown men wiped away tears on Sunday as Waihi remembered the fallen.
The town stopped at 11am as the sirens wailed to mark Armistice Day and the end of World War I.
The large crowd inside the Waihi RSA stood in silence as the bell rang to honour all the soldiers and others who lost their lives and the brave men and women who fought for the country.
People stood shoulder to shoulder as they were reminded of the great sacrifices, endurance and bravery.
Flight Lieutenant Craig McIntyre told the audience “today words are the most inadequate instruments to describe what New Zealanders went through from 1914 to 1918”.
The war was “monstrous and a dreadful conflict” that claimed the lives of 18 million human beings and 18,000 New Zealanders, he said.
And although we are fortunate to live in peaceful times it was important not to forget the past, he said.
The Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Somme battles were already etched in history and when news reached New Zealand, Armistice Day was tempered by the terrible toll the war had taken.
Some could simply not rejoice he said. They were under a dark cloud of sorrow with many soldiers who simply wanted to go home.
But there was a strong belief among those on the frontline and New Zealanders that it had been worth it.
“Although the price of victory was appalling high it was seen as a triumph for values like the protection of human rights.”
It was hoped the Armistice would mark a new era of peace but that was brutally dashed 20 years later, he said.
And as the bugler played the Last Post, backs straightened and pride swelled. Five wreaths were also laid while the Nga¯ti Waihinui group performed and Ben Matautia performed a peace haka.
Meanwhile Ann Clark spent countless hours handknitting 300 poppies for the Remembrance Day 11.11. 1918 sign that hung in the RSA.
The RSA Women’s secretary and treasurer also paid tribute to the horses that perished and said she enjoyed being able to contribute to the commemorations.
She says the RSA was “thrilled to bits with the turnout” as they were not expecting so many people.
Moe Stevens from the Waihi Fire Brigade said 100 years ago the brigade relayed the message to the people the war was over.
It had two fire engines and about 10 men at the morning service.
“And we rang it in this morning.” Rod Rattaray drove his 1928 Austin to the War Memorial Hall and joined vintage cars. His grandfather fought at Passchendaele so he wanted to pay his respects.
Ann Clark handknitted more than 300 poppies for the Waihi RSA Armistice banner that paid tribute to the soldiers and horses in the war.