Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga visited Arras in memory of New Zealand Tunnellers from Hauraki Goldfields
Mayor Tregidga was in Arras on Tuesday 11 August 2009 and participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the New Zealand Tunnellers Monument in Arras that was inaugurated in 2007 for the ninetieth anniversary of the Battle of Arras.
The Arras Mayor and Squadron Leader Lyall J. Stewart, of the New Zealand Defence Staff in London spoke and also laid a wreath. The NZ Vice Chief of Defence Force, Rear Admiral Jack Steer wrote, This is a significant event to remember the enormous contribution of the Tunnellers in WW1. Squadron Leader Stewart also represented the NZ Embassy in France at the ceremony.
Sarah Dennis, New Zealand Ambassador to France said, We are delighted that the historic links between the tunnellers from the Hauraki Goldfields and the town of Arras are being highlighted in this way. The story of the NZ Tunnelling Company in Arras is a unique one and the Embassy is always pleased to support events that underline this special relationship with Arras.
The RNZRSA provided a wreath for the occasion as well as a RNZRSA plaque to be given to the citizens of Arras.
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Colonel Jeremy J. Towler (Retired) laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal British Legion.
A range of invited military, academic and various other guests also attended.
Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga visited the graves of NZ tunnellers during his short visit to Arras.
Waihi Heritage Vision research into Waihis part in the New Zealand Tunnelling Company in WW1 has uncovered the significant contribution Hauraki Goldfields men played. Their specialist underground mining work involved developing a large system of connected underground galleries beneath the city of Arras, which was used in the 1917 Battle of Arras.