A large cluster of totara trees has been planted in a local reserve in honour of those who fought and died in World War I.

About 70 people gathered in Kopurererua Valley, Gate Pa yesterday to mark Armistice Day and remember the Tauranga men who were among the 18,000 New Zealanders who lost their lives during World War I.

At 11am on November 11, 1918, the Great War finally came to an end after four terrible years with the signing of an armistice between Germany and the Allied forces.

A minute's silence was observed at the service followed by karakia by kaumatua Peri Kohu and a prayer by Reverend Don Hegan.


Otumoetai Rotary president John Knowles said the club had planted about 100 trees around Kopurererua Valley as a living tribute to the men who had lost their lives in the war.

He said 100 years ago the world was embroiled in a hellish war with 100,000 New Zealand young men responding to the call to fight for Britain, king and country.

"Over 18,000 New Zealand men were to be killed in action and to never to return to New Zealand.

"We planted these trees to be a living memorial to those soldiers from the Tauranga region, who were a part of that 100,000 and sadly, the 18,000 who passed away.

"Like the trees, when they departed these shores they were saplings but surely they would have become mighty totara if they were able to return to New Zealand."

Former Tauranga RSA president Dick Frew said his first memory of Armistice Day was in primary school.

"I was born and raised in the thriving metropolis of Otorohanga. I remember the school bell ringing, we all went outside and stood in group. A teacher came out and did something with a flag.

"I didn't know what he did back then, but I do now. He lowered it to half mast. Then the bell rang and we went back into class again.

"Downtown in the main street, a fire siren used to sound and all cars used to stop where they were, the whole four or five of them, shops would shut and people on the footpath would stand still and gentlemen would remove their hats for two minutes."

Mr Frew said too many people lost their lives during the war.