Rotorua Review: 30,000th Last Post Ceremony

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Every night since 1928 the people of Ypres in Belgium have held a Last Post Ceremony to mark the lives lost defending their small town in World War One.  Many young New Zealand and Australian men lost their lives in the trenches of Flanders. It is truly significant that they continue to be remembered by Belgian people all these years later.

Last week I was in Europe lobbying EU governments for a trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand. This agreement will ensure that New Zealanders and their businesses are treated fairly in their trade with the EU. As part of this visit I was honoured to represent New Zealand at a ceremony the Menin Gate in Ypres to mark the 30,000th Last Post. It was a truly moving experience, as special as ANZAC day remembrance ceremonies in Rotorua each year.

To express the gratitude of the local towns people towards those who fought and died for Belgium’s freedom, members of the the Ypres community fire brigade first marked the Last Post in 1928. The tune will be a familiar to many in Rotorua, as the traditional final salute to the fallen, played at our own ANZAC Day in respect of those who gave their lives in service of our country. Every day since 1928 a small set of local buglers play the Last Post. It continues to have great significance for local people young and old with local schools teaching the importance of the sacrifice of our soldiers to their students.

All over Europe young men and women from the Commonwealth lost their lives in two word wars.  As a small country, our sacrifice was enormous. Those brave men fought for values that remain as relevant today as they were back then. They helped define New Zealand as a nation - bravery, tenacity, and whose citizens stand up for what's right.

The people of Ypres continue to offer their thanks to these brave New Zealanders who fought alongside them. They continue to ensure that their lives had meaning and their sacrifices are not forgotten.