WWI Peace Day Celebrations in Waimate; 19 July 1919; P489

Name/Title

WWI Peace Day Celebrations in Waimate

About this object

Waimate Peace Day parade. Procession assembling in Lower High Street, Waimate

On the 28th June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, bringing an official end to the war between the Allies and Germany. Peace celebrations were held throughout New Zealand in July 1919 –everywhere from the main centres and their surrounding suburbs to small towns and rural areas. Following advice from the government, most communities held their celebrations on Saturday 19th, Sunday 20th and Monday 21st of July.
Proposed plans for celebrations were distributed by the Department of Internal Affairs as a guide for local governing bodies who were expected to organise and, along with public subscriptions, fund the events. Local authorities were also entitled to subsidies from central government. Employers were to grant their employees leave during the Peace celebrations and to pay full wages and salaries to cover this. Most communities followed the format announced by the government, which called for a Day of Thanksgiving, a Soldiers’ Day and a Children’s Day.
The Waimate District community entered into the spirit of the occasion and after some debate the Peace Celebrations Committee resolved that one day of celebrations be held. This was to focus on a procession that included a soldiers’ parade, a fancy dress parade and children’s entertainment. The following day (Sunday 20th July) was set aside for a united Thanksgiving service.
On Saturday 19th July the weather dawned fine. Those involved in the procession were assembled at the Drill Shed. Judges of the float entries were in position on the balcony of the Waimate Hotel and a reported crowd of 4,000 waited in anticipation for the celebrations to begin. The parade included returned Soldiers, Territorials and Cadets. Local brass bands provided the music. Schools of the town and district were represented in the parade as were local businesses, farming and trades people. A variety of community groups had decorated floats adorned with patriotic memorabilia. Peace and victory were the themes of the occasion. There were individuals in fancy dress parading on horseback, on bicycles or walking.
The procession paused outside the local Post Office for speeches given by the Waimate Mayor (Mr W.E. Evans) and County Council Chairman (Mr T.L. Hart). It was a time for reflection on the consequences of the war; on the brokenness and war weariness as a result of ‘the last four and half years of the greatest strain’. It was also a time of honouring the empire where ‘the call of the Mother nation was heard by her children in all corners of the globe’. Expressions of gratitude and pride were conveyed to members of the Returned Services Association recognising them for their ‘gallantry and courage amidst nerve shattering and hellish torments… and hideous ferocity’.
Now it was time for celebration that it was over. Feasting followed the Waimate Peace Day Parade. 800 children congregated for lunch at the Drill shed before attending a sports afternoon on Queen Street and members of the RSA lunched in St Augustine’s Hall. The day’s celebrations concluded with a fireworks display in Seddon Square. The next day a Thanksgiving service was held in the Olympia Hall.
New Zealand played an official part in a number of peace celebrations overseas. New Zealand soldiers participated in the victory parade of Allied forces in France on Bastille Day (14th July 1919) and Kiwi soldiers subsequently took part in the victory parade in London (19th July 1919), marching with their ANZAC partners. Soldiers also took part in a military procession in Sydney on 19th July.

Place Made

Waimate

Place Notes

Queen Street parade

Date Made

19 July 1919

Object Type

Photograph

Subject and Association Keywords

WWI

Subject and Association Keywords

Peace celebrations

Object number

P489

Rights

Public Domain Public Domain

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