Kiwi at Passchendaele searching for great-grandfather's German saviour

The great-grandson of a heroic Kiwi solider wants to reunite an empty wallet with the family of a German officer who saved his ancestor's life in World War I. 

Private Hayden Cullen from Cambridge is at Passchendaele commemorations near Ypres, Belgium for the centenary of the greatest loss of New Zealand life in a single day, where about 960 soldiers were killed or mortally wounded. 

Hayden is part of the NZ Army band over in Passchendaele for the 100 year commemorations, but he's also on the hunt to find the family of a German officer who saved his great-grandfather's life. 

"If it wasn't for him we wouldn't be here," Hayden said. 

His great grandfather Private Ray Cullen was part of the NZ Machine Gun Corps during the 1918 liberation of the French town Le Quesnoy from German hands since 1914. 

However a shell exploded in the machine gun post, killing five of Ray Cullen's crew and leaving him seriously wounded. 

He tried to make his way back to friendly lines, but collapsed after losing blood.

A German officer and his men who were about to surrender came across him, and made a stretcher out of their tunics. 

They carried Ray Cullen to get medical attention. 

Before the Germans were taken into captivity, the German officer gave Ray Cullen his wallet, which the Cullen family have attempted to return to the unknown savior ever since. 

Hayden told 1 NEWS the wallet has the German officer's initials on it, H. Held, and the officer's name was Henrick Held from Hanover. 

"I want to get in contact with family to thank them for what their relative did for us."

"We've managed to find some promising leads. And maybe some relatives... so it's looking very promising."

More footage from Passchendaele

The pair spoke briefly at the resting place of 512 Kiwis who lost their lives in the battle. Source: 1 NEWS

The pair spoke briefly at the resting place of 512 Kiwis who lost their lives in the battle. Source: 1 NEWS

He spoke passionately about the devastating impact the military offensive had on New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

Today marks 100 years since 846 Kiwi soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of Passchendaele. Source: 1 NEWS

All they have is a wallet, and a pretty inspiring story of heroism. Source: 1 NEWS



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'Passionate community advocate' loses job as Buller councillor after its revealed he's not a NZ citizen

A Buller district councillor has abruptly lost his job overnight, after it emerged he's not a New Zealand citizen.

Australian citizen Martin Hill has lost his seat in the Seddon ward and a by-election will now have to be held in the region.

In a statement the Buller District Council said: "Under the Electoral Act 2001 all nominees standing for election must be a NZ citizen. All candidates sign a declaration as part of the process to say they are a NZ citizen but the act does not require this to be checked or verified."

Buller District Mayor Garry Howard told 1 NEWS the situation is "really devastating".

"He's been a passionate community advocate and for advancing the Buller District,” Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard said the by-election will be tricky due to the large area covered by that ward. But he said there was no other option.

"The Council must comply with the Act and… to follow the legal process. I have encouraged Martin to get his citizenship and to stand again."

However, Mr Howard said he has already received some calls from people in the community who are interested in the position. The council now has 89 days to hold the election.

Martin Hill was approached for comment by 1 NEWS, but he said he has just come off a night shift at Stockton Mine and didn't want to comment at this stage.

Whangarei District Council last month declared a by-election for the same reason.

Court action is also underway in Australia after it emerged seven Members of Parliament held dual citizenship.

Since 2001 most New Zealanders living in Australia haven't been allowed to apply for citizenship.
Source: 1 NEWS