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The Peace Poppy in Arras went international on the day of the unveiling, honouring those who protected our freedom and democracy and highlighting the message of peace.

Over six days the Poppy was built, in the French town of Arras, with the help of French volunteers who raised money for UNICEF.

Thousands of New Zealand messages from the 2015 Giant Poppy in the Auckland Domain were mingled with thousands of French messages to create the Peace Poppy.

Liberte was a word that featured in many of the messages.

We are proud that we took the challenge to get to France and build the Poppy of Peace and were privately funded through the generosity of crowdfunding by philanthropists, family. friends and sponsorship. The poppy petals shipping to France was sponsored Mainfreight. Again thank you to everyone who believed in us.

Visitors came from all over the world and some special visitors were the children of Arras and the descendants of the New Zealand tunnelers from WW1 who were in Arras for the commemorations including Maoris and Cook Islanders.

On the day of the unveiling the President of France Francoise Hollande, our NZ Minister Hon Chris Finlayson and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau along with other VIP’s placed the final messages.

Myself and Helen Pollock – the New Zealand artist of the sculpture, Victory Medal which was in the centre of the Poppy – were recognised prior to the unveiling which was very emotional.

What a privilege it has been to work on a project that honours so many and allows so many to be engaged and make their own personal messages of respect and peace.

Tony McNeight
New Zealand Artist of the Poppy of Peace and the Giant Poppy.

The President of France Francoise Hollande, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and New Zealand Minister Hon Chris Finlayson
The President of France Francoise Hollande, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and New Zealand Minister Hon Chris Finlayson
Young French Girl wrapped in the French flag
Young French Girl wrapped in the French flag
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's message
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s message
The Unveiling of the Poppy of Peace
The Unveiling of the Poppy of Peace
Poppy of Peace from Town Hall Belfry
Poppy of Peace from Town Hall Belfry
An Afghani refugee places a message for peace
An Afghani refugee places a message for peace
Tony McNeight and children with their messages
Tony McNeight and children with their messages
Poppy message of thanks
Poppy message of thanks
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THE FRENCH CONNECTION

One cool evening in late April 2015, Frederic Leturque the Mayor of Arras, a town in France, came down to the Auckland Domain and paid his respects to the men of New Zealand that had protected his town and his people.

He placed one of the red metal poppy petals with a heartfelt message that then became part of The Giant Poppy Art installation. He was there to pay his respects to the New Zealanders that had protected his town and his people a century before.

The effect of the Poppy and the way it engaged people resonated with the Mayor and he recently asked me if Arras could replicate The Giant Poppy Art Installation in their town square in April 2017.

New Zealand has a unique and warm relationship with Arras. During World War 1 NZ soldiers were key in building massive tunnels under the town which were important for quartering animals and troops and tunneling behind enemy lines.

A memorial to the New Zealand tunnellers who lost their lives was unveiled at Arras on 8 April 2007. An underground museum, Carrière Wellington incorporates parts of the tunnel system.

https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/arras-tunnels


ABOUT THE ARTIST

I am a commissioned artist who has had a passion for freedom and democracy and those who fought for it. The culmination of creative thought and these very important commemorations of WW1 resulted in my idea to create a Giant Poppy art installation that gives everyone a chance to make their own personal tribute.

I have a deep connection through family who had fought and died in both World Wars. I had dream to create an art piece where everyone was able to engage.

Thankyou


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And so it begins! Tony McNeight with the first messages to be placed for the Arras Giant Poppy. In the background the Victory Medal sculpture by New Zealand artist Helen Pollock.