Petone Anzac Day ceremony and roll of honour board

On 25 April 2016 a ceremony was held at Petone railway station to mark the centenary of one of the first Anzac Day events in 1916, when workers from the adjacent railway workshops unveiled a commemorative flagpole to symbolise the ‘the unity of Australian and New Zealand railwaymen in peace and war’. As part of the ceremony a replica wooden roll of honour board was unveiled in the railway station. This listed the names of 10 employees of the Petone workshops who lost their lives in the First World War. It replaced a similar board which is thought to have been lost in the early 2000s.

Among the men listed is Major Norman Frederick Hastings, a foreman-fitter who assumed command of the 6th (Manawatu) Squadron of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment during the August offensive at Gallipoli. He died of wounds received on 9 August 1915 during the battle for Chunuk Bair. Fellow fitter David Stewart McFarlane, a sergeant in the Wellington Mounteds, was killed in action on the same day. Labourer John Walinck was probably the first New Zealand Railways employee to die in combat; an Imperial reservist, he returned to Britain on the outbreak of war to join the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and was killed at Neuve Chapelle, France, on 10 March 1915. Labourer Richard Wilson and blacksmith Robert Watson died in the New Zealand Division's best-known battles of 1917, at Messines on 7 June and Passchendaele on 12 October respectively.

The 2016 event also featured speeches, the laying of wreaths and the raising of an Australian red ensign, the flag that was flown in 1916. Following the early morning ceremony, the restored steam locomotive Passchendaele (AB 608) hauled a train of First World War-era carriages on a series of excursion trips between Wellington, Petone and Taita stations (and later in the afternoon, Wellington and Paekākāriki).

The Petone Anzac Day centenary programme, which was organised by the New Zealand rail operator KiwiRail, supported by the Rail Heritage Trust, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union, local government, the RNZRSA and Steam Incorporated, also included the publication of a booklet, New Zealand Railwaymen at War 1914-18, and an historic film trailer shown at Light House cinemas in Petone, Pāuatahanui and Wellington in the weeks prior to Anzac Day. 

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