Watch: NZ Defence Force, Maori 'warriors' face-off under Menin Gate to mark 100 years since our 'darkest day'




An emotional haka has been performed outside Menin Gate in Belgium to mark 100 years since hundreds of Kiwi soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of Passchendaele. 

In one of New Zealand's darkest days, 846 Kiwi soldiers lost their lives in the World War I battle.
Source: 1 NEWS

On this day in 1917, from the utmost end of the earth, New Zealand soldiers passed through Ypres on their way to the Battle of Passchendaele.

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

This morning (NZT), at Menin Gate in the Belgian town, commemorations for what is now described as "New Zealand's darkest day" began.

A waka arrived on the moat which runs underneath the gate, where the Last Post has played every evening at 8pm sharp since 1928, except during WWII.

Members of the Defence Force and citizens gathered at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
Source: 1 NEWS

A haka welcomed guests to Menin Gate, which in 1917 would have been the last sight of civilisation the young kiwi soldiers saw, before they entered the battlefields of the Western Front known for its mud, blood and death.

Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives, David Carter, Environment Minister Nick Smith, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Victoria Cross-winner Willie Apiata and NZ Defence boss Lieutenant General Tim Keating were among those who attended.

Dave Dobbyn also performed a version of his song Welcome Home.

During World War I 10 per cent of New Zealand's population, some 100,000 people - half of the country's working male population - travelled to fight for Britain.

Two-thirds would become casualties, and one in five would never return home.

On October 12, 1917, New Zealand suffered its greatest loss of life in a single day, as some 960 soldiers were either killed or mortally wounded at Passchendaele.

Tonight (NZT), the Belgian National Service will commemorate New Zealand's participation in the Battle of Passchendaele, at the nearby Tyne Cot Cemetery, the resting place of more than 500 New Zealanders.

It is also where a memorial to more than 1000 missing soldiers.

Other commemoration events include the opening of a New Zealand Memorial Poppy Garden, a tree planting in the Polygon Wood, the site of another bloody 1917 battle, and a sunset service at the Buttes New British Cemetery.

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