There were bowed heads and salutes as veterans and members of the community came together to pay their respects and commemorate Armistice Day.

Armistice Day acknowledges the World War I ceasefire at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that ended four years of fighting.

The centenary of Armistice Day in Rotorua began with a service to honour and remember those who fought in World War I.

The service was at the Cenotaph in Government Gardens and was officiated by Reverend Tom Poata.


The Last Post sounded and the flag was raised before one minute of silence was observed at 11am.

Wreaths and poppies were placed on the Cenotaph as part of the commemorations.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick gave the Armistice address.

She said many lives were lost and altered forever on both sides.

"Now in 2018, 100 years on from that first Armistice Day when hopes were so high for enduring peace, we remember those who gave their lives for our country, and also for those who returned home injured in mind and body."

She said the Rotorua Field of Remembrance has been laid every Anzac Day since 2015, and was now in place for Armistice Day.

"It is a reminder to us all that those who sacrificed their lives were our boys, our sons."

Chadwick said Rotorua was now a multicultural community and the day was one for everyone to come together and celebrate the peace which was so longed for.

"This is a day to honour those who fought in World War I and to also remember those who sacrificed so much in many other conflicts since."

Read more:
Armistice Day: Stories of those who served and gave their lives
Te Arawa took those trenches
The Kiwi soldier who almost made it home


As part of her address, Chadwick also described how people heard the news of the Armistice signing and what the reaction was.

"Church bells were rung, anthems sung, drums beaten and whistles blown."

Rotorua Returned and Services' Association president Bryce Morrison thanked the community for attending in vast numbers to commemorate.

He also thanked the community for making it an occasion that was solemn and yet where we could celebrate.

Morrison said Chadwick's mention of Rotorua being a multicultural community was important.

"The world today is a better place. I think we've got something to be proud about and it's important for our kids to know why they died.

"It's all about now being inclusive and embracing all our cultures in Rotorua and trying to be one."

The New Zealand flag flaps in the breeze during the Armistice Day commemorations. Photo / Ben Fraser
The New Zealand flag flaps in the breeze during the Armistice Day commemorations. Photo / Ben Fraser

After the service, a range of family activities and entertainment took place to mark the end of the war and to celebrate peace.

This fun day for families aimed to replicate the celebrations 100 years ago when news of the Armistice was announced in New Zealand.

It included a range of musical performances, a Multicultural Rotorua Parade of Nations, donkeys to pet and ride, interactive shows by Travelling Tuataras, crafts, old-school games, picnics and the sale of Touched By War.

Rotorua's Pam Fletcher had thought, with this being the 100th anniversary, that she must not miss the service.

"I think, as always said, we must never forget hundreds of thousands of people - many young men - gave their lives for us to be standing here today."

Veterans pay their respects as wreaths and poppies are laid on the Cenotaph. Photo / Ben Fraser
Veterans pay their respects as wreaths and poppies are laid on the Cenotaph. Photo / Ben Fraser

Rotorua's Alan and Trixie Scicluna said it was important to remember the people who fought in the war and gave their lives up.

"They probably didn't want to, but they had to sacrifice a lot for our country and other countries."

They said there were a great number of people this year and it was a moving ceremony.

The Rotorua District World WW100 Commemorations Committee has overseen the planning of this event which comes at the end of four years of commemorations around World War I.