New Zealand Consulate-General Noumea, New Caledonia
Anzac Day 2013
Anzac Day 2013 was commemorated in the French Pacific Territories with two ceremonies: in New Caledonia, Place Bir Hakeim in Noumea and in French Polynesia, at the graves of New Zealand and Australian World War One soldiers in Papeete.
On 25 April a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the War Memorial in Noumea. 84 veterans who had been based in New Caledonia during World War Two made the trip to New Caledonia, under the aegis of the Hon. Michael Woodhouse, Minister of Veterans’ Affairs and Rear Admiral Steer, Chief of Navy. New Zealand Consul General Linda Te Puni and the Hon. Michael Woodhouse laid a common wreath on behalf of the government of New Zealand.
The French State was represented by the newly appointed High Commissioner, Mister Jean-Jacques Brot. Many officials from France, New Caledonia and Australia were also present to remember the courage of ANZAC soldiers.
The ceremony was followed by a reception at Noumea’s infantry barracks, in honour of the veterans. The following day, a more intimate and moving ceremony was held at the New Zealand War Cemetery in the village of Bourail, two hours north of Noumea to commemorate the 70th anniversary of New Zealand’s involvement in the war in the Pacific. During World War Two, 20,000 troops of the New Zealand 3rd Division were based at training camps in Bourail. A New Zealand military hospital was also set up there to treat those wounded in Pacific operations. 239 New Zealanders who died in New Caledonia and elsewhere in the Pacific campaign are buried in the War Cemetery that was established in Bourail in 1943. Those at the ceremony were then invited to watch a Maori Television documentary (filmed in 2010) about the New Zealanders’ presence in Bourail during World War Two, and New Zealand’s part in the Pacific Campaign. The New Zealanders made a lasting impression on Bourail, and some at the screening, including the mayor of Bourail, shared their childhood memories. The ceremony was followed by a reception hosted by the mayor, Jean-Pierre Aifa.
In French Polynesia, New Zealand’s Honorary Consul Eric Malmezac, Australia’s Honorary Consul Marc Siu and the High Commissioner of the Republic, Mister Jean-Pierre Laflaquière led commemorations at the Uranie cemetery in Papeete.
Rear Admiral Anne Cullere, Commander in Chief of French Armies in French Polynesia and Lieutenant Colonel Esther Harrop, a New Zealand Army officer were also present.
41 young musicians from the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, the Aotea Youth Symphony Orchestra, have performed on this occasion the New Zealand, French and Australian hymns.
Three soldiers from World War One – two New Zealanders and one Australian – are buried in the cemetery. An Australian soldier, R.W Fuhrstrom, and a New Zealand soldier, Roy J. Leslie, both died of war wounds on the passage back from Europe, passing through Tahiti. The New Zealander P.A Tierney, believed to have fought at Gallipoli, died in French Polynesia a few years after the war.
A memorial ceremony is held each year in French Polynesia in memory of 11,500 soldiers ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) who fell on the front.