Passchendaele, known today as Passendale, is a village in Belgium. It is a long way from New Zealand. During World War 1 it was on the Western Front where German and Allied soldiers fought to break through each other's trench lines. In 1917 New Zealand soldiers fought in two of several battles to try to advance the Allied line so the Allies could capture the high ground of Passchendaele from the Germans. Passchendaele was New Zealand's greatest human catastrophe. It affected more Kiwi families than any other single event in history.
Passchendaele was important to New Zealand identity, culture and organisation. It helped Kiwis develop a sense of themselves as a nation. Although New Zealand soldiers were asked to do the impossible, none fought more bravely than them.
Passchendaele was an important place and environment. Its mud and carnage became a symbol for the horror of war. The area around it was one of the most shelled places on the planet. Today farmers still dig up skeletons and weapons ' the harvest of bones and the harvest of iron. Many Kiwi soldiers lie in unmarked graves.
Passchendaele was and is an example of continuity and change. The battles there were events with causes and results. The ideas and actions of New Zealand's heroes at Passchendaele helped shape and continue to help shape New Zealand society.