Official Visit to Belgium

2 Jun 2017

The Governor-General, The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy and Sir David Gascoigne depart on Sunday 4 June for an official visit to Belgium, where they will represent New Zealand at a number of commemorative ceremonies to mark the centenary of the Battle of Messines.

On 7 June, 1917, New Zealand soldiers participated in the successful attack to capture the ridgeline at Messines. New Zealand suffered 3633 casualties during the battle, including around 700 dead.

Dame Patsy will deliver an address at the New Zealand National Commemoration at Messines Ridge British Cemetery, where approximately 1000 New Zealanders are either buried or commemorated.

6 June
1000  Audience with His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium in Brussels
1045   Wreath-laying at the Colonne du Congrés, Brussels
1115 Courtesy call on the Minister-President of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois
1515  Briefing on the Battle of Messines at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial, Nieuwzeelanderstraat
1545 Private visit to Berks Cemetery to view the grave of Dame Patsy’s great-uncle, Thomas Reddy
2000  Menin Gate Service. The Menin Gate was erected as a memorial to the sacrifice of Commonwealth soldiers who died nearby during the First World War. Each night the last post is sounded in their memory.

7 June
0800 New Zealand National Commemoration, Messines Ridge British Cemetery
0915 Unveiling of centenary plinth in Featherston Square, Messines
0930 VIP Morning Tea Reception in Messines Church
1100  Australian Commemoration, Strand Military Cemetery
1200 Opening of “100 New Zealand Faces of Messines” Exhibition, Messines Culture House
1230  Messines Community-hosted Lunch, Messines Church
1400  Irish and Northern Irish Service, Island of Ireland Peace Park, Armentierssteenweg
1515 Tyne Cot Cemetery visit. The cemetery contains the graves of 520 New Zealanders (322 unidentified) and the Memorial also commemorates 1176 New Zealanders who have no known grave.
1930 Sunset Service at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial, Nieuwzeelanderstraat
2020 In the ground on the way to the Messines Peace Village, Dame Patsy will place a stake in the ground, containing the name of a soldier and a personal message.
2045 New Zealand Barbecue at the Messines Peace Village. This will be an opportunity to celebrate the longstanding ties between New Zealand and Messines, and to thank the people of Messines for the work that they have done to keep alive the memory of New Zealand’s sacrifice in the First World War.

For further information, contact Nerina Bennett, Government House Public Affairs Manager on 021 470583


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