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Hamilton and Ieper cement ties

Friday 1 February 2013, 4:08PM
By Hamilton City Council
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HAMILTON

The relationship between Hamilton and the Belgian city of Ieper is to be formally endorsed on Tuesday.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to be signed in Hamilton by Mayor Julie Hardaker in the presence of the former Mayor of Ieper Luc Dehaene, who is in New Zealand on a private holiday.

The MOU builds on the links forged by the two cities in recent years over Anzac Day.

The ties between Hamilton and Ieper were initially forged by Councillor Peter Bos and have resulted in a number of delegations making reciprocal visits since 2006.

Ieper is home to the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing which bears the names of almost 55,000 soldiers who died in the Ieper area during the First World War.

Each night at 8pm locals and visitors gather under the Menin Gate as buglers play the Last Post.

In 2007 the Menin Gate was recreated for Hamilton’s Anzac Day ceremony, marking the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.

In 2009 Honorary Citizenship of Hamilton was bestowed on the Mayor of Ieper in recognition of the city’s ongoing care in remembering the large number of New Zealand soldiers, including those from our own city and the Waikato, who died in the battles near Ieper during the First World War.

And last year Ieper bugler Raf Decombe played at the civic Anzac Day ceremony in Hamilton’s Memorial Park.

Mayor Julie Hardaker said it was now time to formally recognise the relationship between the two cities.

“Ieper and Hamilton have developed a special relationship that has grown out of our historical connections and the Anzac commemorations.

“In my time as Mayor there have been several visits to Hamilton, including by the Mayor of Ieper and it is appropriate that we build on our friendship and develop a deeper cultural relationship with Ieper. Signing a Memorandum of Understanding will also bring us closer together as the centenary commemorations of the First World War approach.”

In addition to the MOU signing, honorary citizenship of Hamilton will also be given to the holder of the office of chairman of the Ieper Last Post Association.

The signing will take place in the City Council chambers, Garden Place, on Tuesday 5 February at 5pm.