Amongst the pomp and ceremony of official Armistice Day celebrations around New Zealand, a small, very special ceremony in rural Dannevirke is likely to have been one of the most unique.
At Umutaoroa, in the shadow of the Ruahine Ranges, at 11am on Sunday, November 11, a moment of remembrance took place, with the Last Post played on a cellphone, followed by the planting of five kahikatea trees on farmland to commemorate the five men from the district who lost their lives in World War 1.
Umutaoroa was settled in 1886 and 27 sons of those original settlers went on to serve in World War I, with their sacrifices remembered on Armistice Day.
"We've planted kahikatea trees in an area where it is wet and swampy, they like that environment and it's very appropriate as most of the five died on the Somme in the wet and mud," Umutaoroa resident Ray Black said.
"This was just a very small district, but it made a big sacrifice."
Approximately one in every household went to war, although in some households two and three served.
The 27 men who left for the Great War battlefields were a mixture of farmers, farm hands, engineers, a school teacher and a cheesemaker.
George Beatty was a farmer who was killed on the Somme on March 30, 1918. Edward Emmerson, a cheesemaker, died of malaria in Palestine in 1918.
Charles Linehan, farmer, and August Senk, farm hand, both of Umutaoroa, are listed on the Auckland Cenotaph memorial roll, but with no details of how they died.
Three generations of the O'Sullivan family attended the commemoration, remembering John Charles O'Sullivan who lost his life on the Somme.
"It's been a very special day," Mary Jo Frame from Napier said. "John Charles was my uncle and this has been a memorable occasion."
O'Sullivan's great-grandsons, Brendon and John O'Sullivan and Mark Frame, were also making a pilgrimage to the Dannevirke Cenotaph where the World War 1 soldier's name is etched in stone.
Descendants of the district's pioneering families, the O'Sullivans, Walshes and Larsens were represented at the Armistice Day service.
"It's been a very special day of commemoration for our small district," Black said.
The unique commemoration ended with a shared picnic and a chat with old timers from the area, with an old Umutaoroa School flag and a photo of the opening of the school swimming pool in 1941, a first for a country school, presented to the organisers of the day.