It is 100 days until the 100th anniversary of the armistice marking the end of World War I when every one of the 18,277 New Zealanders who died in the Great War will be remembered with a named cross at the Auckland Domain.

"It's going to be a dramatic, emotional reminder of exactly what this country gave during those four years a century ago and the first time in New Zealand such a stark memorial has been laid out," Auckland RSA president Graham Gibson said.

He said the RSA was looking forward to welcoming the public through the rows of crosses at the National Field of Remembrance on the slope in front of the Auckland Museum and Cenotaph.

The crosses will be arranged in blocks by the years that the soldiers and nurses died. A separate block to the left of 1432 crosses will honour the 693 families who lost more than one child, including a dozen families who lost two brothers on the same day and six families who lost four members during the war.


During the installation from October 20 to November 20, there will be displays of stories of those who were lost.

The National Field of Remembrance is the final, and largest, installation by the Fields of Remembrance Trust, a partnership between the Auckland RSA, National RSA and the Passchendaele Society.

This year, 4799 crosses were laid in the Domain, which was very powerful, Gibson said.

Over the last four years, the trust has installed Fields of Remembrance each Anzac Day in the main centres and many communities, as well as providing crosses to thousands of schools and early childhood centres throughout the country.

The Hundred Days Offensive from August 1918 saw Allied forces finally sweep across northern France, and included the liberation by the New Zealand Division of many French towns from their German captors.

"News came through late last night that armistice had been signed, and hostilities ceased at 11am. Thank God!", wrote the commander of the New Zealand Division, Major-General Sir Andrew Russell, in his diary on November 11, 1918.

New Zealand will be the first in the world to mark Armistice Day, with Auckland hosting a major commemorative service at The Cenotaph on November 11 at 11am – acknowledging the time and date the guns finally fell silent.

This year, 18,277 named crosses, representing every New Zealander who died in World War I, will be installed at Auckland Domain. Photo / Nick Reed
This year, 18,277 named crosses, representing every New Zealander who died in World War I, will be installed at Auckland Domain. Photo / Nick Reed

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: "The National Field of Remembrance will serve as a powerful reminder of the scale of sacrifice of the 18,277 New Zealanders who died to secure victory 100 years ago so that we may live more peaceful lives today.

"In remembering the tragedy of World War I, we remember the New Zealanders who laid down their lives for their country and their mates, and commit ourselves to learn the lessons of the past and strive to create a more peaceful future."

Plans for a World War I centenary memorial in Auckland Domain have been delayed after Auckland Council missed out on $1.34 million in Lotteries funding. Now the council says it will consider memorial options, which may encompass all wars Aucklanders have been involved in.