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Farewelling troops in Wellington

This rare film records a civic ceremony for New Zealand troops departing for the front. It shows the official farewell to the Wellington Section of the NZ Expeditionary Force on 24 September 1914. The troops are inspected by a group of dignitaries, including Prime Minister William Massey, Lord Liverpool the Governor-General and Major General Sir Alexander Godley. They then march four abreast down Adelaide Road and along Lambton Quay, Wellington’s main shopping street. The men of the NZEF are then seen crammed on board the deck and high up on the rigging of a troopship. Most have happy faces as they await what they expected would be a grand adventure. Contrast this with the more subdued figures of the 6th Reinforcement who appear at the end of the film. They are seen departing for the front in August 1915, when the horrors of the Gallipoli Campaign had become widely known.

Year:1914 & 1915

Location:Wellington, New Zealand

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Farewelling troops in Wellington

This rare film records a civic ceremony for New Zealand troops departing for the front. It shows the official farewell to the Wellington Section of the NZ Expeditionary Force on 24 September 1914. The troops are inspected by a group of dignitaries, including Prime Minister William Massey, Lord Liverpool the Governor-General and Major General Sir Alexander Godley. They then march four abreast down Adelaide Road and along Lambton Quay, Wellington’s main shopping street. The men of the NZEF are then seen crammed on board the deck and high up on the rigging of a troopship. Most have happy faces as they await what they expected would be a grand adventure. Contrast this with the more subdued figures of the 6th Reinforcement who appear at the end of the film. They are seen departing for the front in August 1915, when the horrors of the Gallipoli Campaign had become widely known.


Year: 1914 & 1915

Length: 02:26

Production Company: Unknown, possibly the New Zealand Government

Credits: The cameraman is unknown, but it was most likely the Government Cinematographer Sydney B. Taylor.

Source: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: F1820 Off to the front


People: William Massey (Prime Minister), James Allen (Minister of Defence), Major General Sir Alexander Godley (Commander NZ Military Forces), Lord Liverpool (Governor-General)

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Tags: Animals, Ceremonies, Horses, Parades, Ships, Soldiers, Wellington, New Zealand

Subject: World War 1914-1916, New Zealand, Troop Departures, Transportation, Equipment and Supplies, Soldiers


The Wellington Section of the NZ Expeditionary Force consisted of the Wellington Mounted Rifles led by W. Meldrum, and the Wellington Infantry Brigade commanded by W. G. Malone. They first camped at Awapuni racecourse in Palmerston North for their initial training. Then they assembled at Wellington’s Newtown Park for a giant farewell ceremony. Local schools were closed for the whole day, and shops for part of it, and nearly 20,000 Wellingtonians turned out to the ceremony. The Evening Post newspaper reported that the crowds of onlookers “vigorously cheered… their boys” as they marched through the city for King’s Wharf (today known as Queen’s Wharf).

This initial farewell ceremony proved something of an anti-climax, as news of a possible threat from German raiders delayed the sailing of the Main Body until mid-October, when a warship escort arrived to take the troopships safely to Australia. The delay meant the troops were able to watch their own ceremonial farewell on screen. This film, or one similar, was shown in movie theatres throughout Wellington in the days after the aborted departure. Hayward’s King’s Theatre advertised “New Zealand’s Contingent Off to the Front” from 28 September 1914. The Empress Theatre showed it even earlier, as: “[a] smart kinematographic feat was performed... which allowed the management of the Empress Theatre continuous pictures to present last evening the film ‘Farewelling the Troops,’ depicting the send-off to our Expeditionary Force yesterday afternoon.” (Evening Post, 25 September 1914, p.3).

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Farewelling troops in Wellington

  • Newtown Park, Wellington

  • 0:00

    Wide shot of Newtown Park, as Ministers and Officers are gathered at bottom of steps, with the Wellington Infantry Battalion behind them; officials include William Massey, Prime Minister, and James Allen, Minister of Defence.

  • 0:05

    Maj Gen Sir Alexander Godley,Commander NZ Military Forces, escorts the Governor-General Lord Liverpool, followed by Massey, Allen and members of official party.

  • 0:14

    Lord Liverpool and official party inspect Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment (other members of party include Lt Col W. J. Meldrum, Col E. W. C. Chaytor, Lt Col W. G. Braithwaite).

  • 0:37

    Pan official party preparing to make speeches across to soldiers.

  • Adelaide Road, Newtown

  • 0:54

    Crowds stream out of Newtown Park as trams cross each other.

  • Lambton Quay

  • 0:59

    Wide shot of the Wellington Infantry Battalion marching along Lambton Quay in columns of four; crowds line the footpath.

  • King's Wharf

  • 1:10

    Wide shot stores loaded on to a transport ship.

  • 1:17

    Views of troop ships about to depart, soldiers cram on decks as people crowd the wharves bidding them farewell.

  • 1:24

    Medium shots of troops crowding on side of ship deck and on rigging, mostly smiling happy faces.

  • King's Wharf

  • 1:37

    Pan of a more subdued group of soldiers of the 6th Reinforcement standing on ship deck.

  • 1:48

    Soldiers on rigging.

  • Wellington Harbour

  • 1:51

    Long shot of cruiser steaming out of Wellington Harbour, past cargo ship.

  • 1:58

    Long shot of H.M.N.Z.T. No.28 Tofua steaming out of Wellington Harbour.