It’s an impressive and sobering scene that’s been four and a half years in the making.
Rows upon rows of white crosses – 18,277 to be exact – are being laid on fields surrounding the Auckland War Memorial Museum for the upcoming commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, when World War 1 ended.
The Armistice Centenary Field of Remembrance installation is the first attempt to display a cross for each New Zealander who died in the Great War – including New Zealanders who died serving in the Australian or British military.
Hundreds of volunteers from the Navy, Army, Airforce and Auckland RSA have worked since Friday morning laying crosses ready for the public opening of the commemoration on Saturday.
The display by the Fields of Remembrance Trust, a partnership between the Auckland and national RSAs and the Passchendaele Society, also features a separate Brothers Field of more than 1400 crosses dedicated to families who suffered multiple losses.
On that field, which is organised by the number of losses per family are crosses for eight sets of twins, and for the nine families that lost four brothers in the war.
Graham Gibson, the Auckland RSA president and vice chairmen of the Fields of Remembrance, said the installation emphasises the sacrifices New Zealand made for Allied forces.
He’s been particularly moved by the large participation of young New Zealanders in getting the commemoration ready.
The installation will remain on the Auckland Domain grounds until November 20, gracing the fields while larger commemoration services mark the historic Armistice date.