New Zealand at War

New Zealand is two islands at the southern tip of the Pacific ocean, how many wars can it be involved in? Well, seeing that it is part of the British Commonwealth, it sent its’ sons far from home to fight wars that had nothing to do with it.

First war they were sent off to was the Boer War in South Africa. This set a very bad precedent. England now had a source of soldiers for it’s wars.

This beautiful clock tower is in the middle of Hokitika, a small town on the west coast.

Another memorial in Hokitika, one to the pioneers that settled the west coat. This coast, on the South Island is the least populated, most rural and really, cut off from most of the country. So it is nice that they honored their original settlers.

I’m sure there is a memorial in Auckland, it was our first day in NZ, I didn’t see it. I wasn’t looking. Second day, as we drove out and south, we visited the town of Waihi. The purpose, to see a large pit goldmine (Unfortunately, we didn’t take the tour, which I would have loved). Imagine my surprise when along the fence of the pit I saw this.

This is just a few of the poppies the line marched on and on.

A project by the local Lions club to honor all New Zealand soldiers who were part of Anzac, the South Pacific soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who took part in WWI. A year later and poppies are still here, even though it says on the sign that they were supposed to come down at the end of 2018 and that decedents can have the poppy. I didn’t have time to walk the length of the fence to see if anyone took their poppy. This is a definite downside to group tours – someone else’ timetable. Then again, had I not been on this tour I’d never even see this. So really, no complaints.

Joel got this coin among his change (sorry the image is fuzzy) I grabbed it. 2018 is the centennial of the end of the war, so NZ had this coin made in commemoration. Although Kiwis participated in many battles, the best known, which was also a slaughterhouse and useless battle was Galipoli in Turkey. This is legal tender, a year later, you can still get them as change. I did see a coin dealer, who was selling old coins selling these as well. Yishai loves coins and is a big history buff. We both listened to Dan Carlins’ podcast about WWI. So I knew that he’d want this coin. Otherwise, I’d have kept it myself. But then, I do have my Galipoli yarn…

This is how monuments are used today, as a place to pose and look pretty. Yes, this is a beautiful image, pretty girl, red coat, white marble. She never stopped to look at the meaning of the memorial. I did, in Rotorua, this is a memorial to the Boer War.

To a specific hero, who fought hard and lost his life in South Africa.

Nearby there was a memorial to the Maoris’ who died in WWI. I didn’t take a picture of the whole memorial. I’m a little pissed at the whole Maori situation. They arrived only 400 years before the Europeans – but that allows them to be considered ‘natives’. Their fellow Pacific Islanders who have arrived later don’t get that honor. These days, NZ is trying to make Maori a second legal language – but only those with Maori blood can go to the schools that teach the language. Instead of celebrating who they are as part of society – they are now becoming special. With rights that no one else has. Oh, and you want to see who most of the homeless on the streets of the cities are? It’s not the Europeans, it’s not the many Asians who have made NZ home, it’s the Maori. One more thing, since I’m ranting, if you want to talk about wars and bloodthirsty conquest – once again – the Maoris – but since they aren’t white – their bloody history is celebrated.

This predates the Boer war! Shelly Bay in Wellington was an army base forever. No more, now just a lovely place to go and picnic and see local artists. I’m sure Wellington had it’s own WWI memorial. I missed it. There was a memorial in the old cemetery, but we were running through it in the pouring rain. So all I saw was a small statue saying that 16 NZ soldiers from WWI, were brought back and buried there.

In Nelson, in honor of WWI.

Right on the lake in Queenstown, the most elaborate memorial yet. Looking at the four plaques, this area offered up almost 80 of it’s local sons. There were many others who were lucky to come home. Or maybe not, so many injuries among the survivors. Do you see the small black plaque on the right. Of course I went and took a close look.

A plaque added for WWII. New Zealand learned its lesson and didn’t send all of it’s young men to be killed in Europe. Or even in Asia for that matter.

A memorial arch in Christchurch. Yes, in memory of WWI. Btw, you see how orange this picture is? This is because of the fires in Australia, for weeks the ash has been blowing over to NZ. It made the weather cold, wet and rainy. It also turned the sky here red.

That is it, I’m sure I missed a lot of memorials. I’m glad NZ has remembered 100 years later. I so want to see the Peter Jackson’s movie, They Shall not Grow Old. Where he took real film and photos from WWI, cleaned it up and where possible added dialog. His grandfather was one of the many Kiwis who went to war. He came back alive and in his honor Jackson made the movie. Unfortunately, it is very hard to see, very few releases. I’m hopeful one of these day to be able to see it.

Leah

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