Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Armistice Centenary is an opportunity for New Zealanders to reflect on the past, while also looking towards the future.

Speaking at the Armistice Day National Ceremony in Wellington this morning, she said today was for reflecting on the human toll of war, but also a reminder to value the living and to hold fast to hope.

"In a world where conflict remains all too prevalent, we look to how we can achieve a better future," she said.

"We think of our commitment as a nation to the ideals of peace, multilateralism and inclusion."


At 11am today, New Zealand marked the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918.

The First World War took a toll on New Zealand, with roughly 100,000 men and women – 10 per cent of the population at the time – serving overseas during the conflict.

"By November 1918 we were a nation reeling," Ardern said.

"New Zealand's total war losses had surpassed 16,000, a toll that was cruelly compounded by the influenza pandemic which killed about 9000 people in New Zealand over the course of two months."

She said today, New Zealanders remember all the lives changed by the First World War.

"We consider the families across New Zealand that faced an uncertain future without loved ones in a world indelibly altered by the horrors of industrial, modern warfare."

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will represent New Zealand at Armistice commemorations in France and attend the inaugural Paris Peace Forum later today.

"New Zealand emerged from this conflict with a fierce commitment to the cause of peace, and a determination to play our part in building the kind of world we wanted to live in," Peters said.


Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy also spoke to those gathered at the National Ceremony in Wellington and spoke of the sacrifice of the Kiwi soldiers.

"Today, a century on from the news of the Armistice, people and nations around the world are gathering as we are – to reflect and remember – and to celebrate the precious gifts of peace.

"The generation that lived the First World War is no longer with us, but their legacy will endure," she said.

"We cherish their memory as we affirm the fervent hopes of our forebears 100 years ago – hopes for peace and a better world for us all."