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NZ artwork in Arras honours soldiers

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/04/2017

French President Francois Hollande has put a finally poppy in place in a New Zealand-designed art installation honouring those who defended the town of Arras in World War I.

The Victory Medal/Poppy of Peace installation by New Zealand artists Helen Pollock and Tony McNeight has been placed in the Place Des Heroes in Arras.

There are 10,000 messages of peace, remembrance and respect written by the French and New Zealanders in the Poppy of Peace which surrounds the Victory Medal sculpture.

The installation honours the tunnellers who spent six months digging 20km of tunnels and underground galleries capable of sheltering 24,000 soldiers before the Battle of Arras, which began on April 9, 1917.

McNeight created the Giant Poppy art installation in the Auckland Domain in April 2015.

The Mayor of Arras visited it and was inspired by the messages in it so asked the artist to build a smaller replica in Arras to commemorate the Battle of Arras.

On Sunday evening (NZ time) the French president placed the final poppy in the installation. Also present was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.

New Zealand soldiers were key in building the massive tunnels under the town.

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