Commemorative train trip captivates crowds
The Passchendaele steam train, commemorating New Zealand soldiers who died on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the battle of Chunuk Bair (World War 1), was a huge success at the weekend.
About 250 people took part in the Council’s train trip from Paekākāriki to Ōtaki then back again. During the trip members of Coasters Musical Theatre, dressed up as World War 1 soldiers and nurses, led the singing of popular war-time songs in each carriage.
At Ōtaki station, the train was welcomed by a lone piper and a kapa haka group featuring Ōtaki school children.
Speeches from Mayor Ross Church, the Turkish Embassy’s Chargé d’ Affaires Aziz Sevi and Rupene Waaka, representing the district’s three iwi, followed.
The 7th Battalion Army Band then continued to entertain people on the platform with World War 1 exhibitions on display inside the station.
After a few hours at Ōtaki station, the train headed back to Paekākāriki with its engine facing backwards.
Mayor Ross Church said he loved the trip and that it was a great day to remember the lessons of the past and, at the same time, an opportunity to look forward to a positive future with our Turkish friends.
“It was heartening to see so many people get involved in the event, even those who weren’t riding on the train. Lots turned up to have a look when it was stationary and also check out the war exhibitions at Ōtaki station. Others waved from the road and their cars, or parked beside the track to take photos, when the train was steaming down the main highway. The feeling of community spirit was quite magical.”
Mr Aziz Sevi, Chargé d’ Affaires said he was privileged to be a part of the historic occasion.
“Kāpiti Coast District Council put on a memorable event for all, both aboard the train and at the Ōtaki railway station. I also had a lifetime experience travelling up front with the train driver between Waikanae and Te Horo and witnessed the strong community spirit in Ōtaki.”