Smith pays tribute to Passchendaele soldiers

New Zealand's only living Victoria Cross recipient Willie Apiata welcomes Prince William at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium

The commemoration marked what is considered New Zealand's darkest day, with 843 dead and over 1700 wounded in just the first few hours of October 12th 1917.

"The huge losses New Zealand suffered on the Western Front during World War 1 exceeded those for all other battles and all other wars, with Passchendaele being the worst". Entire communities were robbed of their young people.

The Duke met with representatives of the New Zealand Parliament and government at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders, which is run by the War Graves Commission, which has responsibility for the burial space.

New Zealand's only living Victoria Cross recipient, Willie Apiata, greets Prince William with a hongi at the New Zealand Memorial Wall to the Missing. The soldiers who died on that day, and those who died from their wounds in the following days, accounted for 6 per cent of the country's total casualties during WWI. "But while we may never truly understand, we can remember".

Prince William lays a wreath at the New Zealand Memorial Wall to the Missing.

There was a ceremonial welcome from the Maori Cultural Group of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Today marks 100 years since 846 Kiwi soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of Passchendaele as they passed through Ypres.

Government Minister Dr Nick Smith has paid tribute to the New Zealand servicemen who fought in the Battle of Passchendaele a century ago at commemorations today in Belgium. "We will remember them".

The Duke, who represented the Queen at the event in Belgium, was joined by the county's Princess Astrid and delivered his speech at Tyne Cot cemetery, near the town of Ypres in Flanders, surrounded by thousands of headstones of Allied servicemen who died in the Great War.

Four generations of Prince William's family have visited Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Prince William attended on behalf of the Queen and Princess Astrid of Belgium on behalf of King Philippe, along with many New Zealanders, including Speaker of the House Hon David Carter.

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