Guide for White Cross Ceremonies

Field of Remembrance Ceremony 
It is appropriate to mark the establishment of a field of white crosses with a ceremony.

We recommend that your Field be laid out prior to any ceremony although you may wish to ceremonially lay one last cross e,g, that of the soldier “Known only to God”.
You may wish to invite the New Zealand Defence Force to help set up your field or involve them in any commemoration or events around Anzac Day.

The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association have developed a DIY tool-kit to deliver commemorative ceremonies.
The toolkit includes protocols, a suggested order of service and sound files. Please click here to access RNZRSA Toolkit.

White Cross Ceremony Parliament Grounds

 Field of Remembrance Ceremony at Parliament Grounds.

Your commemoration can be made special by your choice of music, poetry and story. Here are some additional resources to help personalize your commemoration:

Music stand
Click on the title to link to music and lyrics: There is also a wide range of secular music to choose from: Music and songs were very important at that time click here to access:

There are many enduring and compassionate poems from the First World War – one the best know is:
In Flanders Field by John McCrae, May 1915

There will be a poem or a verse that resonates with pupils whether by Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen or one of the Anzac soldiers. You can find examples on these websites:

First World War Poetry

Or pupils may wish to write their own poetry for the occasion.


From your research there may be a story of particular importance for your pupils. This could be integrated into your ceremony. It may be the story of one of Fallen from your Field or School;  or it could be memories of a soldier who returned to your community. 

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Don McIver and pupils at Parliament ceremony

White cross with poppy

Other options:
  • Invited guests may include members of the School Board, a representative from a local RSA, a Veteran who is a member of the school community, a local Church minister, a representative from the Local Council if available, a local Iwi representative, family and whanau.
  • If the ceremony is being held on or ahead of ANZAC Day (April 25th) or Armistice Day (11th November) then attendees may wear medals. See the RNZRSA website for protocols around the wearing of medals.
  • An old style school bell could be tolled - a single ring every 15 seconds or so prior to commencement of ceremony.
  • If your school has a Roll of Honour board – the names of those soldiers may be read out.
  • Pupils may all wear an RSA poppy.
  • The Flanders Field poppy included in your kit may be incorporated into your ceremony and placed in front of one of the crosses or that of the unknown soldier by an invited guest or pupil.
  • Poppy laying - Pupils and attendees could be invited to place an RSA poppy in front of one of the crosses. As each poppy is placed – take a moment to bow your head and reflect.
A note about Crosses:
Although the cross is a Christian symbol the origins of crosses on soldier’s graves dates back to Medieval times. A fallen Knight’s sword would be thrust into the ground to mark his grave. Even in recent times a soldier’s rifle could be used to mark his final resting place.

The Fields of Remembrance Trust was established in 2012 to honour those who served and died for our nation during World War One.

The Trust is made up of the Passchendaele Society, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association, New Zealand (RNZRSA) representIng all local RSAs, and the Auckland RSA. It is a registered charity.