Wellington crosses mark deaths of Anzac soldiers

The crosses will remain up until next month (Laura Macdonald / Newshub.)
The crosses will remain up until next month (Laura Macdonald / Newshub.)

Nearly 2000 Wellingtonians killed in the first years of World War I have been remembered today.

In all, 1830 individual white crosses were installed on Salamanca Lawn at Wellington Botanic Gardens, each engraved with the names of a soldier who died in 1915 and 1916.

Among them is a cross for Joseph William Haughie, killed in Gallipoli on 27 August 1915, at age 32.

His nephew John Haughie was in Wellington today visiting his daughter, and went to the Fields of Remembrance not expecting to see his uncle's name on a cross.

"[It's] quite meaningful, it really is. These people died in terrible circumstances, they really did. And the grief it caused the families.

"There's no winners. There's a lot of sacrifice. Home by Christmas? Doesn't happen. I think it's very sad."

Mr Haughie's uncle was a member of the Wellington Mounted Rifles and died 25 years before Mr Haughie was born. 

He says the tragedy of his uncle's death only really hit home when he visited his grave at the Hill 60 cemetery in Turkey.

"He was only ever a story and suddenly the reality, as I say, is there among all these people. Lost young men, lives shattered."

He hopes that people will visit the Fields of Remembrance even if they don't have a personal connection to the war, as he does.

The crosses at Wellington's Botanic Gardens will stay up until May 15, and white crosses are also being installed in Fields of Remembrance around the country.

Between 1914 and 1918 more than 18,000 New Zealanders were killed, and by 2018 there will be a cross to remember every one of those fallen soldiers.