Well somehow another year has passed so, as usual, here is a list of upcoming anniversaries to look out for. Some international ones and some local New Zealand dates as well, some notable ones and some others that will likely pass with little commemoration.
50 Years ago – On 10 July 1967 we ditched pennies, shillings and pounds and switched to cents and dollars. Because a decimal system made more sense. Some of my readers might remember the day that our change changed, but others like myself may just recall finding the occasional rogue sixpence, shilling or florin in circulation up until 2006 when those penny pinchers at the Reserve Bank killed the fun by changing the coin sizes.
50 Years ago – 19 January will mark fifty years since the Strongman Mine explosion, which killed 19 miners.
75 Years ago – Japanese Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita of the Imperial Navy flew reconnaissance missions over Wellington and Auckland.
75 Years ago – On 24 June 1942 a 7.2 earthquake near Masterton caused considerable damage throughout Wairarapa and also in Wellington, where one person was killed and facades from some older buildings collapsed onto the pavement. Had the quake struck earlier in the day then there likely would’ve been many more casualties. Another 6.8 earthquake struck five weeks later. Check out Matthew Wright’s ‘Living on Shaky Ground’ for more about the science and history of New Zealand’s earthquakes.
100 Years ago – 12 October will mark one hundred years since New Zealand’s ‘darkest day’, when 845 men lost their lives at Passchendaele on the Western Front. Other notable First World War anniversaries New Zealanders should watch out for this year include the centenary of the Battle of Messines (June) and the Battle of Beersheba (October).
A lesser-known anniversary on 3 December is the centenary of the assault by New Zealanders on the ruins of Polderhoek Chateau. I’ve previously shared the story behind a postcard sent by one of the soldiers that was wounded during this action.
Finally, one other First World War centenary with a New Zealand link that I’d like to draw attention to is the daring action by the German commerce raider SMS Wolf, which captured and sank vessels near the Kermadec Islands and deployed minefields off the New Zealand coast which sank the Port Kembla off Cape Farewell and the Wimmera off Cape Maria van Diemen.
Make sure to check out WW100 for more information about First World War commemorations throughout New Zealand this year.
200 Years ago – The ‘Sealer’s War’ in Otago continued to escalate. Sealer, convict and human-head trafficker William Tucker was one of a party of Europeans that were killed and eaten by aggrieved Māori. In retaliation, some of the survivors, led by James Kelly, killed a number of Māori and burned down a large village. This bloody episode in Otago history is often overlooked.
300 Years ago – In 1717 the Alpine Fault ruptured with an estimated magnitude of around 8.0. This was well before European settlement so there were no tall buildings to collapse, but Māori throughout New Zealand will have felt it strongly and those in the South Island may have faced significant threats from rockfalls and landslides. On average, the Alpine Fault ruptures every 330 years, although sometimes the interval between quakes can be as small as 140 years or as long as 510 years. GNS predicts that there is a 30% chance that the Alpine Fault will rupture again in the next half-century. Very scary.
375 Years ago – Abel Tasman and his crew became the first Europeans to arrive in New Zealand waters. Their short visit resulted in bloodshed. There are commemorations planned in Golden Bay this December to mark the 375th anniversary, including a visit by a delegation from the Netherlands and an upgrade to the Abel Tasman National Monument. The Takaka museum has a beautiful diorama of Tasman’s visit – I had the chance to view it myself last week and highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting Golden Bay.