Peace Celebrations: Petone and Lower Hutt 1919

Peace to celebrate the end of WWI was officially marked in NZ over the three days of July 19-21 1919. Saturday 19 July was designated Soldier’s Day, Sunday was Thanksgiving Day and Monday Children’s day. Peace celebrations were postponed from the November 1918 cessation of the War due to the devastating outbreak of the influenza epidemic.

Two impressive peace arches were built in Jackson Street, Petone to highlight their peace celebrations. Peace was celebrated joyously in Petone over the 3 days of July 19-21 1919 with street processions, parades, music, ‘patriotic meetings’, thanksgiving services, fireworks and a bonfire.

The peace arch built by the Gear Meat Company near their premises on Jackson Street, Petone. It was built to resemble two English towers and decorated in shields containing coats of arms of Allied countries and topped by the crown. Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Petone Borough Council peace arch, Jackson St, July 1919. Decorated in greenery along with the verandah posts.  Hutt City Libraries collection.
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Advertisement for peace celebrations in Petone. Evening Post 17 July 1919.
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Peace celebrations in Jackson St, Petone, July 1919. Photographer Mrs. K. Hobbs.                        Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Jackson St peace parade July 1919. Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Petone Municipal Band, 1917. The band played at all events in the peace celebrations. Hutt City Libraries Collection.
Grand Theatre, Jackson St, Petone, pictured in 1963. It was the venue for the July 1919 peace celebrations. Evening Post Collection.
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The Gear peace arch illuminated at night, 1919. Hutt City Libraries Collection.

Luckily the Gear peace arch was lit by electricity, as Cabinet banned the use of coal for all peace illuminations.

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New Zealand Times 22 July 1919. Papers Past.

Wainuiomata celebrated peace on Saturday 19 July with children’s sports and games.  There was a replete tea in the local hall to celebrate the local returned service people and the ladies who helped with the war effort. In the evening songs and dances were rounded off by singing the national anthem.

Evening Post 17 July 1919. Papers Past.

On Monday 21 July was Children’s Day. Children in both Petone and Lower Hutt attended ‘patriotic meetings’ in the morning. In the afternoon they received treats and enjoyed movie screenings – at The Grand and the Empire Theatre in Petone and at the King George Theatre in Lower Hutt.

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The King George Theatre building, Lower Hutt, in 1912, the venue for July 1919 Lower Hutt peace celebrations. Alexander Turnbull Library no. 28332 1/2.

Lower Hutt chose to mark the occasion solely on Monday 21 July, but because the weather was so wild and rainy most of their celebrations were indoors. The planned Monday night bonfire and fireworks had to be cancelled.

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New Zealand Times 22 July 1919. Papers Past.

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Petone Peace Celebrations in Lower Hutt.

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Peace arch across Jackson Street, Petone to commemorate 100 years since the original peace celebrations. July 19 2019.

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Petone Peace Celebrations in Lower Hutt.

For how you can commemorate this anniversary in July 2019 see the Petone Settlers Museum on Facebook or join us at our talk on WWI Peace Celebrations in the Hutt Valley on Sunday 28 July 2019, 1pm.

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