A programme outlining the peace thanksgiving service at Otaki on Sunday 20 July 1919. Click on image or follow this link to see the booklet.
Several communities interchanged the days on which they celebrated soldiers’ and children’s day. But the day of thanksgiving was, where celebrated, almost without exception on Sunday 20 July. Most had already held a day of thanksgiving Sunday 6 July, in accordance with the King’s proclamation following the signing of peace on 28 June. But this didn’t appear to stop most communities from carrying out their plans for another day of thanksgiving on the 20th.
The format was fairly similar on both days. Communities generally held special services at all churches and many also held large combined services. On the 6th these services were often preceded or followed by a military procession. But this does not appear to have been part of proceedings on the 20th, probably because of the large processions held on other peace celebration days. The combined services on the 20th were well attended in all the main centres, with 7000 people filling the Kensington Drill Hall in Dunedin. But Christchurch appears to have had the biggest crowd, with an estimated 15,000 people attending a ‘peace thanksgiving service’ at the King Edward Barracks. Those attending included the city’s Mayor and Mayoress, Dr and Mrs Thacker, Minister of Internal Affairs George Russell, returned soldiers and their relatives. The service was led by the Bishop of Christchurch, Churchill Julius, while an orchestra of 80 instruments and a 500-voice choir led the singing. Songs included the national anthem, Kipling’s recessional and the Hallelujah chorus.