Thursday October 19, 2017   Last updated 03:51AM
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Waka taua to lead Passchendaele ceremony

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Netherlands-based waka taua Te Hono ki Aotearoa will play a key role in next week’s commemoration in Belgium of the centenary of New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of Passchendaele.

October 12, 1917 was New Zealand’s worst day in war, with 846 soldiers dying in the mud of Flanders and almost 2000 more wounded.

Nga Waka Federation chair Robert Gabel is part of a small group of kaihoe who will crew the waka, along with Dutch paddlers from the Njord Royal Rowing Club in Leiden where Te Hono ki Aotearoa is housed.

He says a canal now runs through the battleground.

"The waka will be paddled about 600 metres to a memorial gate called Menin Gate. Karakia, haka and waiata appropriate to the occasion will be carried out jointly by ourselves and the New Zealand Defence Force Maori cultural group," he says.

Some of the kaihoe, including Mr Gabel, had relatives involved in the war.

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, will attend on behalf of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth alongside Princess Astrid of Belgium, who will stand in for her brother King Philippe.

FULL INTERVIEW ROBERT GABEL

 

 

 

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