New Zealand commemorates Armistice Day

Auckland Girls' Choir will sing at a ceremony held In Auckland Museum's WWI Sanctuary (Facebook / Auckland Museum)
Auckland Girls' Choir will sing at a ceremony held In Auckland Museum's WWI Sanctuary (Facebook / Auckland Museum)

It has been 98 years since the armistice was signed that brought World War I to an end, and commemorations are to be held across the country on Friday to honour those Kiwis killed in combat.

Ceremonies have been planned nationwide to mark Armistice Day, and remember the sacrifice of those who have lost their lives serving New Zealand in armed conflict.

New Zealand suffered a higher casualty rate than any other country involved in World War I, with 18,500 dead and more than 41,000 wounded between 1914 and 1918.

For a country with a population of just 1.1 million at the time, the death and injury toll was devastating.

A large-scale wreath-laying service has been planned at the National War Memorial in Auckland, and is scheduled to begin at 11am to match the ceasefire deal, which was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

Two minutes' silence will be observed at that ceremony, as well as a host of others at war memorials around New Zealand.

Thames Coromandel District Council is holding a commemoration at the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, and has announced it is looking into a full revamp of the grounds on which the newly restored war monument stands.

The council says it wants to make the area "more suitable" for Anzac Day and Armistice Day ceremonies, and more accessible for disabled people.

The All Blacks have also revealed they will take part in commemorations when they play Italy in Rome this weekend, donning a black jersey embroidered with a poppy.

They are playing just kilometres from Monte Cassino, where Kiwi troops played an important role during World War II, and where former All Blacks George Hart and Jack Hardy were buried following their deaths in 1944.

A number of players, including captain Kieran Read, shared messages encouraging their fellow Kiwis to remember those who have served New Zealand on the battlefront.

Remembrance Sunday, which takes place in addition to Armistice Day every year on the second Sunday in November, will also be commemorated this weekend.

The New Zealand Defence Force says a national commemorative service will be held at the Cathedral of St Paul in Wellington.