The House held a special debate this afternoon to mark New Zealand’s entrance into the First World War 100 years ago on August 4.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government of the day announced its declaration of war and Parliament approved an expeditionary force.
New Zealand had a population of one million in 1914 and while the initial force was 8,000 by the end of the war 100,000 had served. Of these 18,000 lost their lives, while 41,000 were wounded. One in 20 New Zealanders were a direct casualty, but every New Zealander was affected in one way or another.
Key said there were a vast number of events to mark the First World War which he believed would be attended by many New Zealanders today as they marked events which shaped the country.
Labour Leader David Cunliffe said in a small village in the South Island was a cenotaph with the names of dozens of men who had died in the “Great War”. It had been the first place he recalled attending a dawn ceremony which defined the stark impact of the First World War on New Zealand.
The impact of the war on the fabric of this country still reverberated today, Cunliffe said.
Following the debate the motion; “That this House recognise that on the 4th of August 2014, we will mark the centenary of New Zealand entering the First World War” was passed on a voice vote.
MPs began the three hour third reading debate of the Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill. This was taken with the second Imprest supply bill for the year, which was introduced and read a first time and set down for second reading forthwith.
Bill English said the debate would close of the 2014 Budget ahead of the election in September. The Budget underpinned a strong economy with a growth in confidence throughout New Zealand.
David Parker said if things were going so well, why had National gone for an early election? He believed this was because “this was as good as it gets” for the economy, with the prospects looking downhill from now on.
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