'New Zealand troops on the Amiens-Albert Road, September 1916', courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, © IWM, Q 1243

France and New Zealand aim to strengthen Centenary links

Posted on centenarynews.com on 01 December 2013
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The French Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Kader Arif, has visited New Zealand for talks aimed at strengthening educational and cultural ties during the First World War Centenary commemorations. 

At a meeting in Auckland, Mr Arif and New Zealand's Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Christopher Finlayson, signed a letter of intent, reaffirming the deep friendship between the two countries stemming from shared experiences on the battlefields.

The governments in Paris and Wellington are keen to encourage further exchanges between schools, and to enhance educational links through social media.

They also want to promote exchanges and cooperation between museums, national archives, universities, media and cultural organisations.

More than 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas during the First World War, out of a population that numbered barely more than one million at the outbreak of the conflict. More than 18,000 died, many of them on the Western Front, and around 41,000 others were wounded.

Shared sacrifices

Mr Finlayson said. "Our shared sacrifices sealed an enduring friendship. Successive French and New Zealand governments have worked together mindful of the need to continuously construct peace and security in the world."

Mr Arif welcomed New Zealand’s participation in major events being organised in France during the Centenary, especially those involving battles in which New Zealanders fought.

These include commemorations marking the Battle of the Somme, to be held in September 2016, and ceremonies in November 2018 to mark the liberation of Le Quesnoy by New Zealand forces just days before the Armistice.

During his two-day visit, Mr Arif laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Wellington in memory of New Zealanders who fell on the Western Front.

He also met students at schools taking part in the Shared Memories Project, a joint France-New Zealand education programme commemorating the First World War.

Source: New Zealand Government and French Embassy in Wellington

Date of press release publication: 28/11/2013

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News