New Zealand’s Darkest Day

On the 12th of October 1917, 846 young New Zealanders were killed in the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, with many more to die over the coming days from the wounds received on this one day. By the end of the day the total number of casualties, the wounded, the dead and the missing was 2,740. It took two and a half days to clear the battlefield of the dead and injured.

On the 4th October 2007 (the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Broadseinde) the Rt.Hon Helen Clark ONZ representing the Government of New Zealand was in Ypres where together with the Flemish Government they signed the Ypres Agreement. The agreement committed New Zealand to co-operate in “… increasing broad community recognition … educating younger generations … honouring the war dead … preserving heritage material … and encouraging tourism to commemorative and historical sites in Flanders and New Zealand…” This agreement inspired the 2009 exhibition  “Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten”.  and the erection of 5,000 white crosses on the parade ground of Fort Takapuna. The Passchendaele Society (Inc) was formed in March 2011 by a dedicated group of enthusiasts who want to ensure New Zealand’s darkest day is not forgotten.

More information on the Passchendaele Society may be found via the “About Us” button at the top of this page  and our Newsletter is available under the “E-news” button.  This website seeks to provide Society members, students and casual visitors alike with a channel to e-sources and resources on the First World War. Please explore our website for links to World War I websites, information on the Passchendaele Offensive, it’s context in the First World Warand the annual Veteran Affairs multi-media competition  “Why do we remember Passchendaele? 

Click on Membership for options to join the Society.  For individuals, this remains a small fee of only $20 per year.

The Passchendaele Society acknowledges the generous support of:

The Royal New Zealand Returned Services Association (RNZRSA), The Auckland RSA, The Devonport RSAThe Auckland Officers’ Club, and The Rotary Club of Newmarket and Student Horizons who is assisting us in our quest of educating the Younger Generations by sending them to Belgium to see and learn everything first hand.

The purpose of the Passchendaele Society:

The Society was set up in 2011 to:

• increase community awareness of New Zealand’s history in the First World War at Passchendaele and the Western Front

• educate younger generations of New Zealand about this history

• honour the war dead

• facilitate access and promote visits to historic and commemorative sites.

• support conservation and interpretation of heritage material from Passchendaele and the Western Front.

• maintaining contact with the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage and other organisations who share our objectives.


• Raising the levels of awareness in the community .

• Greater knowledge of Passchendaele and the Western Front in young people.

• Commemorating the war dead through commemoration services.

• Encouraging the community to visit Passchendaele and the Western Front.

• Making it possible for the community to view heritage material

Measurable Outcomes:

• Anecdotal and quantifiable levels of awareness

• Number, quality and awareness of ceremonies

• Tourist numbers to Passchendaele and the Western Front

• Exhibitions in New Zealand

We Have Succeeded in:

Community Awareness

• providing information to television, radio, newspapers and magazines

• setting up Fields of Remembrance Trust which established more than 100,000 personalised white crosses in fields of remembrance throughout New Zealand

Younger Generations

• setting up Fields of Remembrance Trust which established Fields of Remembrance in almost all New Zealand schools .

• with Ministry of Education established a competition “Their Stories-Our Stories”. Presentation at Parliament by Minister of Education.

• planning competition through Ministry of Education “Why I Want To Be In Passchendaele in October 2017.” Winners 10 students to Passchendaele.

Honour the War Dead

• established the annual Passchendaele Commemoration Ceremony at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

• described by Museum Director Roy Clare as “ the perfect blend of reflection , thoughtfulness, music, reverence, honour and ceremony.”

• publicising details of 1914-1918 commemoration ceremonies in Passchendaele and the Western Front.

Historic and Commemorative Sites

• planning a New Zealand Garden and Memorial in Passchendaele Area to be opened at the Centennial Commemoration of the Battle of Passchendaele.

Heritage Material

• Supported exhibitions of heritage material supplied by Passchendaele Memorial Museum 1917 and the New Zealand Defence Force.

Contacts with Ministry of Culture and Heritage

• established regular and continuous contacts with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the WW100 and other related organisations.