Ninety-eight years ago yesterday the "War to End all Wars" - World War I - ended and the occasion was marked with a sombre ceremony in Whangarei.

Dubbed The Great War, more than 20 million people died, with hostilities officially ending at 11am on November 11, 1918 - Armistice Day.

Yesterday a crowd gathered at the Whangarei War Memorial and Cenotaph in Laurie Hall Park to mark the day, laying wreaths to honour the dead and playing the Last Post.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai and MP Shane Reti laid wreaths, followed by many ex-servicemen and women from Whangarei Returned and Services Association, members of the Armed Forces, cadets and members of the public.


Just under 10 per cent of New Zealand's then population of 1.1 million served overseas during WWI, with more than 18,000 dying. More than 40,000 were also hospitalised with injury or illness. Nearly every New Zealand family was affected.

More than 2200 Maori and about 460 Pacific Islanders served overseas with the New Zealand forces and 11 Victoria Crosses were awarded to soldiers serving with New Zealand forces.

The 100th anniversary of the end of the war will be marked in 2018.

The All Blacks joined forces with New Zealand's RSA to commemorate Armistice Day yesterday.

In Italy preparing for their match against Gli Azzurri tomorrow morning, the All Blacks recorded special messages of support for the occasion. The players will also wear an embroidered poppy on the sleeve of their jersey.