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WATCH: Wellington’s Last Post ceremony coming to an end

Jun 8th, 2018 | By | Category: Featured Article, News

Wing Commander Graham Streatfield, Royal New Zealand Air force, whose grandfather served in World War I

On November 11 this year, the last sombre notes of the Last Post bugle call will fade bringing a symbolic end to one of the darkest eras in history—WW1.

This will herald the end of the three year commemoration at  Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

The Last Post ceremony is held nightly, and began on ANZAC Day in 2015 as part of the centenary commemoration of WW1.

Chris Leach, who works at the National War Memorial says the event has been well-received by the public with many repeat visitors from New Zealand and overseas.

“We usually have a dozen to 20 each night, but the most I’ve had in one evening when I’m working was 150.”

The ceremony lasts for around three minutes and commences promptly at 5:00 p.m.

New Zealand Defence Force personnel lower the New Zealand flags, followed by a reading of the Ode of Remembrance in Maori and English.

According to the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, the playing of the Last Post has two accepted purposes—summoning the spirits of the fallen back to the Cenotaph and a symbolic ending of the day.

“For me, the ceremony means the closing of the building and the formal ending of the vigil of the day,” Mr. Leach says.

When the war broke out in 2014 after the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife, the population of New Zealand was 1.1 million.

One hundred thousand of these individuals—many barely in their teens were shipped abroad as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces.

A vase of Poppies. The plaque reads “They gave their lives for their country that we might live in peace.”

Mr. Leach says about 18,000 never made it home and around 42,000 were injured.

He says around 30,000 New Zealand lives have been lost in conflicts going back to the Boer Wars in the 1800s.

The general public is invited to participate in the ceremony by reading the Ode of Remembrance.

Wing Commander Graham Streatfield from Britain, who has served with the Royal New Zealand Airforce for 11 years has read the Ode 111 times.

He says it’s an honour to share the podium with visitors who have lost family members in the war and read the Ode in their own languages.

Wing Commander Streatfield says his Grandad was a healthy young 16-year old when he went off to war.

He survived the Spanish Flu and the conflict but many of his company didn’t.

“I’m blessed, but I wonder how many lives never happened, and when I’m reading the ode I’m reading for those people.”

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