1919 peace celebrations

Page 4 – Peace celebration days

Peace celebrations in New Zealand

Peace celebrations were held throughout New Zealand in July 1919 – everywhere from the main centres and their surrounding suburbs to small towns and rural areas. Following advice from the government, most communities held their celebrations on Saturday 19th, Sunday 20th and Monday 21st. Most also followed the format originally announced by the government, which called for a Soldiers’ Day, a Day of Thanksgiving and a Children’s Day.

Fallen footballers memorial day

Invercargill’s ‘fallen footballers memorial day’ consisted of a procession of football clubs and schools, followed by rugby matches, relay races and a fancy dress competition. The Southland RFU organised the event to raise funds for a memorial to the province’s fallen footballers in Rugby Park.

There were some exceptions. Several communities chose to start their celebrations on Friday the 18th, while others chose to carry on until Tuesday the 22nd. Invercargill, for example, held a 'Fallen footballers memorial day' on the 22nd.

Other communities changed the order in which the days were celebrated. Dannevirke, for example, chose to celebrate Children’s Day on the 19th and Soldiers’ Day on the 21st, while the Bay of Plenty combined all three days of celebrations into one, the 19th.

Peace celebrations overseas - NZ involvement

New Zealand played an official part in a number of peace celebrations overseas. Perhaps the first were the celebrations held in France on Bastille Day, 14 July 1919, when a number of New Zealand soldiers participated in the victory parade of Allied forces. Kiwi soldiers subsequently took part in the victory parade in London on 19 July. As reported in the Mercury, the New Zealanders marched with their ANZAC partners:

An Australian tank led the Australians and New Zealanders, and each included detachments of nurses. They were everywhere received with cheers and ‘coo-ees’ from thousands of their comrades in the crowds.

New Zealand soldiers also took part in a military procession on 19 July in Sydney, where they reportedly attracted ‘special attention’. HMS New Zealand, the Royal Navy battlecruiser the country had paid for before the war, was in Sydney for these celebrations. New Zealand was also involved in peace celebrations in parts of the Pacific it had responsibility for. The Resident Commissioner of Niue reported that the planting of some 15,000 coconuts was the main feature of their celebrations. It spent just over £21 on its celebrations. It is unclear what festivities took place in Western Samoa, but New Zealand contributed £1000 towards them and was presumably involved in their planning and implementation.

How to cite this page

'Peace celebration days', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/1919-peace-celebrations/days, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 28-Aug-2014