Kaiapoi North, Kaiapoi Borough and St Patrick’s Primary Schools have contributed artworks of Anzac Day to be displayed alongside the work of Belgian art students.
The Battle of Passchendaele has been a byword for the horror of the Great War with 3700 New Zealand casualties, of which 45 officers and 800 men were either dead or lying mortally wounded between the lines.
In terms of lives lost in a single day, this remains the blackest day in New Zealand’s history.
In 2007, on the 90th anniversary of that battle, the Waimakariri District was invited to formally ‘twin’ with Zonnebeke-Passendale, reuniting the bonds forged between our two districts on the fields of Flanders.
Flanders is forever linked with soldiers’ blood, through the celebrated poem by John McCrae, which immortalised the sacrifice made by so many on the battlefield.
Waimakariri was chosen as a twin because of its similarity in landscape and people and in recognition of the number of soldiers from here who remain buried there.
A scrapbook of stories and memories of our soldiers was presented to the visiting Belgians and in return they gifted the artworks in this exhibition.
The prints are works by students of the RHoK Academie of Visual Arts in Brussels, three generations removed from the horror of that time.
The works are sombre, produced by a variety of printmaking processes.
Some are lithographs, others etchings and some are linoblock.
Mud was as much an enemy of the soldiers fighting in Flanders as the enemy.
The name conjures images of shell craters, barbed wire across a shattered landscape of mud, soldiers trapped in trenches to be mown down by machine gunfire or blown up by artillery.
The capture of the village of Passchendaele near Ypres in Flanders cost thousands of lives.
More New Zealand soldiers died in Belgium than any other country.
In the many war cemeteries that surround Passchendaele the graves are still cared for and respected and the people there do not forget those who sacrificed their lives for their freedom.
The exhibition runs until 28 May.