News & Events

City to mark 75 years since end of World War II

Monday August 10 2020

Palmerston North will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the second world war on 15 August, with a wreath-laying service at the Cenotaph in the Square.

Archive photo shows crowds of people lining the streets of Palmerston North at a parade to celebrate the end of the second world war.

Schools and businesses closed in Palmerston North to mark the end of World War II on 15 August 1945. A thanksgiving service was held that afternoon, followed by a victory parade the next day. The parade attracted a big turnout of civilians and Defence personnel, a flotilla of 130 vehicles, and was led by the Manawatū Scottish Society’s Highland Pipe Band. The parade was followed by community singalong. Photo: Manawatū Heritage

The end of World War II, on 15 August 1945, followed the United States dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August). Fighting in Europe had ended in May 1945, but the Allies were still fighting in the Pacific.

Mayor Grant Smith says the 75th anniversary of the end of the war is an opportunity for everyone to consider the sacrifices made on both sides and what those sacrifices mean towards the lives forged by successive generations. These occasions are especially important to Palmerston North because of our close New Zealand Defence Force relationships with Linton Military Camp and RNZAF Base Ohakea.

“We saw during the Covid-19 lockdown that the respect for our soldiers meant we would mark Anzac Day come what may. We might not have been able to gather, but we stood at dawn in our neighbourhoods listening as laments rang out from pipes, bugles and speakers. It is important to New Zealanders to show solidarity with their military men and women, both commemorating history and supporting their efforts at home and around the world.”

The sound of bagpipes will mark the start of the service at 10.45am, with dignitaries being piped on to the concourse at 10.55am by the Pipes and Drums of Palmerston North. At the Cenotaph, the New Zealand and Palmerston North city flags will be flying, and a lament will be piped at 11am, following the ringing of the clocktower bells.

Wreaths will be laid one at a time by:

  • New Zealand Army – Lieutenant Colonel Ed Craw, RNZAC (Commanding Officer of the Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles Regiment at Linton Camp) on behalf of the Commander of the First New Zealand Brigade. He will be accompanied by the Brigade Command Sergeant Major, WO1 Raymond Kareko.
  • Royal New Zealand Air Force – Base Commander Ohakea, Group Captain Shaun Sexton, RNZAF. Accompanied by Command Warrant Officer Guy Lipsham.
  • Palmerston North Returned and Services Association Brigadier (Retired) Evan Torrance, who is PNRSA Welfare Trust Chair and Manawatū Officer’s Club Patron. Accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Joe Hollander, RNZE (PNRSA Vice-President).
  • Palmerston North Deputy Mayor Tangi Utikere and Wiremu Te Awe Awe from Rangitāne.

The ode will then be recited in te reo Māori (by Wiremu Te Awe Awe) and English (by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Joe Hollander, RNZE). It acknowledges the sacrifice of soldiers on both sides of the war.

LTCOL Ed Craw says being part of our local community’s commemoration of the service and sacrifice of the thousands of men and women who served is always a humbling experience. It will be particularly so this year as we mark the 75th anniversary of the end of both the War in the Pacific and World War II.

“Local commemorations, such as the one here in Palmerston North, not only allow us all to reflect on those sacrifices of the country, but more specifically about those made by the local community, by their local service men and women,” Craw says.

Service organiser Hollander says VJ Day was important for New Zealand because it was the fight for our Pacific back yard. The victory brought relief to a nation disrupted by five years’ of war.

“Now, 75 years on, we reflect on the end of the second world war, the home and overseas experiences and sacrifices made by New Zealanders who had only 20 years beforehand experienced the Great War, and the great relief to all communities throughout New Zealand and the world,” Hollander says.