Armistice Centenary: Remembering the Contributions of Māori, Chinese, and Pasifika Men

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22893971
Pioneer Battalion performing a haka. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association:New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013282-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22893971 

On Sunday 11 November the world commemorates 100 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. Over 100,000 New Zealanders served during the war and more than 18,000 were killed. This had a devastating affect on people at home and on November 11 1918 the armistice came as a huge relief that was met with joy and thankfulness. Armistice Day has since become a time to reflect on the losses of the war, the hopes of peace, and the contributions of all who served.

An often unknown part of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War is the courageous participation of Māori, New Zealand Chinese, Cook Island Māori, Fijians, Niueans, Tongans, Samoans, Tuvaluans, and men from Kiribati and Norfolk Island. More than 2,200 Māori and around 500 Pasifika men served overseas with the New Zealand Forces. Just like other ANZAC soldiers these men left their homes, families, and cultures to go to the other side of the world and fight in what was hoped to be ‘the war to end all wars’. They frequently experienced racism, deprivation, and a lack of acknowledgement after the war of their valuable contribution. The story of Te Hokowhitu a Tu, the Māori Pioneer Battalion, is an important part of our First World War history and we have a good selection of items in our library that chronicle the Battalion and the involvement of soldiers from the Pacific.

To learn more, check out the display of books on the second floor at the Central Library and explore the titles and websites listed below:


Te Hokowhitu a Tu : the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War / Christopher Pugsley.
“Distinguished military historian Chris Pugsley recounts the story of the Māori Pioneer Battalion for a new generation. Drawing on rare archival material and previously unpublished diaries and letters, he tells not only the wider story of the the Battalion’s military exploits but also gives a vivid account of the daily life of the soldiers on active service. Illustrated with a large number of fascinating photographs, the book also includes a complete list of all those soldiers who fought with the Battalion.” (Adapted from book cover)

Maiea te tupua : whānau accounts of Waikato-Maniapoto World War One veterans and one conscriptee : commemorating 100 years of World War One / produced by Pūrekireki Marae with the support from Te Pua Wānanga ̄ki te Ao of the University of Waikato, the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust, the Maniapotō Māori Trust Board, Trust Waikato and Te Puni Kōkiri.
This beautifully illustrated book contains whānau accounts of Waikato-Maniapoto World War One veterans and one conscriptee. It was written by Tom Roa and Maehe Paki and gives moving personal accounts from family members.

Syndetics book coverMaori in the great war / James Cowan.
“In 1914 the population of New Zealand was little more than one million, of whom 50,000 were Maori. Eventually 2227 Maori men served overseas, the vast majority volunteers. 336 paid the supreme sacrifice, of whom 196 were killed in action or died of wounds. A further 734 were wounded, an over-all casualty rate approaching 50%. This revised; Maori in the Great War; contains appendices specifying full details of every soldier who served as well as the Roll of Honour.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNiue and the Great War / Margaret Pointer.
“The story of tiny Niue’s involvement in the Great War has captivated people since an account was first published by Margaret Pointer in 2000. In 1915, 160 Niuean men joined the NZEF as part of the 3rd Māori Reinforcements and set sail to Auckland and then Egypt and France. Most had never left the island before, or worn shoes before. Most spoke no English. Most significantly, they had no immunity to European disease. Within three months of leaving New Zealand, over 80 per cent of them had been hospitalised.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverKoe kau to’a na’anau poletau/Valiant volunteers: soldiers from Tonga in the Great War / Christine Liava’a.
“At the beginning of the Great War, 1914-1918, the British Empire rallied to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms. British men in Tonga, a protectorate of Britain, although never part of the Empire, heeded his call and enlisted in the Australian and New Zealand forces. Some Tongan men joined them. This book lists the names of these men with their military details, family information, awards, and their deaths. Many photographs are included. An overview of their service and a chronology of events are also given.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Le fitafita mai Samoa/The force from Samoa: soldiers from the Samoan Islands in the Great War / Christine Liava’a.
“At the beginning of the Great War, 1914-1918, Western Samoa was invaded and captured by a New Zealand force acting on behalf of Britain. Australia similarly invaded and captured German New Guinea. Thus the German possessions in the South Pacific were rendered incapable of assisting in the German war effort. American Samoa remained neutral until 1917, when American men were registered as available for service, Volunteers from both Western and American Samoa enlisted in New Zealand, Australia, America and Britain. This book lists all the men from the islands of Samoa who served in these forces, with their military details, family information, awards, and deaths. Photographs of as many as possible are included. An overview of the situation and events in Samoa, a chronology, and several appendices are also given.” (Syndetics summary)

Soldiers from the Pacific: the story of Pacific Island soldiers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War One / Howard Weddell ; edited and produced by Peter Cooke, Defence of NZ Study Group.
“During World War One over 1,000 men from Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa and Norfolk Island volunteered to join the New Zealand Military Forces. Their service included Gallipoli, France, Egypt and Palestine. Despite the fact that 107 of these men died of disease or enemy action, 73 were wounded in action and three became prisoners of war, regrettably their story has yet to be told. They served New Zealand and this is their story.” (Back cover)

Chinese Anzacs : Australians of Chinese descent in the defence forces 1885-1919 / by Alistair Kennedy.
Chinese ANZACs discusses the little known participation of Australian-born and New Zealand-born Chinese in the defence forces during the First World War. Includes a list of New Zealand-born Chinese in the NZEF 1915-1919.

Websites:

Te Puni Kōkiri: Kei Wareware Tātou, Lest We Forget

Te Ara: Māori Contingent in the First World War

New Zealand History: Māori in the NZEF Pioneer Battalion

Te Papa: Were there Pacific Islanders at Gallipoli in 1915?

Sunday 11 November 2018 Commemorations:

Armistice Day 2018 will be marked with events throughout New Zealand including the live-streaming of the Armistice Centenary National Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in central Wellington. Check out this website for details: Armistice Centenary

Armistice Day

WWI series: Conscientious Objectors in the Library

“The heroes of war are publicly honoured, and their brave deeds are taught to children… (while) the heroes of peace most often go unrecognised.” So wrote Elsie Locke, in her introduction to Bread and Water, a memoir of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors.

For now more than a year, New Zealand has remembered the sacrifices and experiences of soldiers, nurses and civilians who fought in the First World War. Conscientious objectors, however, are less often spoken of, and uneasily sit on the boundary between these two groups. These were men who, through pacifist, religious, and/or moral conviction, refused to participate in the war. Although often overlooked in our cultural memory of New Zealand’s war experience, conscientious objectors, both around the world and in New Zealand, have certainly left traces in our history. Here at the library, we’re equipped with resources to help you discover the lives and thinking of these men – and of their families and those who their decisions affected.

baxterPerhaps the most well-known of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors is also known internationally. Archibald Baxter was outspokenly against war in the days leading up to conscription in New Zealand, was arrested unawares before being asked if he would sign up, and shipped from jail to jail before being sent to the trenches, to be punished with ‘Field Punishment Number One’, incarcerated in a mental hospital, and eventually sent home to New Zealand. He left a strong legacy of anti-militarism; in his son, Terence John, who was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in WWII, and in his matter-of-fact account of his experiences whilst imprisoned in his book We Will Not Cease. Written in 1939 in England, almost all copies of the book printed were destroyed in the Blitz, and it did not become well-known in New Zealand until the 1960s. Luckily, despite this the book is now available to borrow from the library. Since this time, it “has become a classic of New Zealand literature.”

King and Country Call, by Paul Baker, is a second book about the experience not only of conscientious objectors in WWI, but also about conscription, how it was introduced to New Zealand, and its consequences. It is available to borrow, again from the Central Library.

Conscientious objectors’ lives and convictions are canvassed by the books above, and other titles in our library catalogue, but the details of their lives and beliefs, their principles in their own words, are often to be found in the details of life in archival sources. Army records and newspaper clippings give us another glimpse into conscientious objectors’ lives. PapersPast  is an invaluable online, searchable database of New Zealand newspapers from 1839 until 1948. A search for ‘conscientious objectors’ or the name of a particular figure brings up a huge number of resources.

The National Archives, likewise, provide access to defence personnel files from WWI, which can be viewed online and include details of deployments, conduct and medical files – invaluable resources.

Both these websites, along with many other resources useful for researching our history such as NZHistory.net  and Te Ara, can be accessed from the free internet computers at any Wellington City Library.

Ernest Kilby

In Wellington, last year’s WW100 project honoured not only eight servicemen, and one nurse, but a conscientious objector born and bred in the region, Ernest Kilby of Island Bay. Ernest resisted conscription due to his Open Brethren Christian beliefs, and was imprisoned from 1917-1919. Ernest Kilby’s likeness and story were pasted up in Island Bay as part of the city’s war commemorations. His story, and background information, can be read on the council website.  Accounts of Ernest’s conviction and various trials can also be read on the Papers Past online archive.

Sometimes forgotten, but worth remembering, the conscientious objectors of the First World War still leave their legacy. WWI was the first instance of conscription in New Zealand, and one with mixed results. The resistance of the men who refused it, and their articulate reasons for doing so, provide a counterpoint to our dominant cultural narrative of the war.

The art of war: the First World War in paintings, photographs, posters and cartoons

By 1916 Britain, Australia and Canada had each established official war art programmes to document their country’s activities in the First World War and to use for propaganda purposes. Muirhead Bone was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in May of that year in an unprecedented act of government sponsorship for the arts. New Zealand lagged behind its allies on this issue because its wartime government considered war art unnecessary and expensive, but in April 1918 Nugent Welch was taken on as New Zealand’s divisional war artist.

Art:
Syndetics book coverArt from the First World War.
“Throughout World War I, the British government employed a diverse group of artists to produce a rich visual record of wartime events. But the art from this important collection often far exceeds this objective, giving voice to both the artist and the soldiers who are depicted. Art from the First World War contains more than fifty images chosen from among the Imperial War Museum’s impressive collection of works by war artists. Art from the First World War features some of the most well-known British artists of the twentieth century, from the brothers John and Paul Nash to William Orpen, Stanley Spencer, and John Singer Sargent, whose Gassed shows a line of wounded soldiers blinded by a mustard gas attack. On the occasion of the centenary, the Imperial War Museum is bringing this book out in a new edition.” (Syndetics summary)

Portraits:
Historically portraits of military leaders were more common then the portraits of the ordinary serviceman. The depictions of other aspects of war such as the suffering of casualties and civilians has taken much longer to develop.

Syndetics book coverThe Great War in portraits / Paul Moorhouse ; with an essay by Sebastian Faulks.
“In viewing the Great War through the portraits of those involved, Paul Moorhouse looks at the bitter-sweet nature of a conflict in which valour and selfless endeavour were qualified by disaster and suffering, and examines the notion of identity – how various individuals associated with the war were represented and perceived.” (Syndetics)

Women artists:
There were no officially commissioned women war artists in the First World War. Women artists were excluded from the front line – the fields of domesticity and social and industrial subjects were considered to be their metier. However women served as nurses, nurse aides and ambulance drivers. Many of them were accomplished informal artists and were able to record their experiences in several mediums.

 

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Left: ‘A Grenadier Guardsman’ by William Orpen, 1917. Right: ‘A bus conductress’ by Victoria Monkhouse, 1919.

Syndetics book coverBeyond the battlefield : women artists of the two World Wars
“World Wars I and II changed the globe on a scale never seen before or since, and from these terrible conflicts came an abundance of photographs, drawings, and other artworks attempting to make sense of the turbulent era. In this generously illustrated book, Catherine Speck provides a fascinating account of women artists during wartime in America, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and their visual responses to war, both at the front lines and on the home front. In addition to following high-profile artists such as American photographer Lee Miller, Speck recounts the experiences of nurses, voluntary aides, and ambulance drivers who found the time to create astonishing artworks in the midst of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Posters:
Posters were recognised as a powerful recruiting tool with simple slogans and strong graphic imagery designed to appeal to the working class who fuelled so much of the machinery of war. They were also used to stir up patriotic feeling, influence women to send their menfolk to the front and to take up positions in service, farms and factories. They were also used to justify the war, raise money, procure resources and to promote good standards of behaviour.

Syndetics book coverBritish posters of the First World War
“During the First World War the authorities emulated the simple slogans and strong graphic imagery of advertising posters to create a form of mass communication that was easily and instantly understood by the British public. They were aimed at the mostly illiterate working class who did more than their share to feed the machinery of war. This book looks at the art of these posters and explores the themes that emerged throughout the course of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Photography:
Photography in the First World War was made possible by earlier developments in chemistry and in the manufacture of glass lenses, established as a practical process from the 1850s onwards.The ability of photographers to document events was limited to what they could literally see at a certain time, while the quality of their work was hampered by the limited manoeuverability of their equipment. War artists had much greater flexibility as documenters of war, particularly in the difficult conditions of the trenches.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in colour : the definitive illustrated history with over 200 remarkable full colour photographs
“Up to now, World War I has only been seen in black and white. At the time, it was the only way pictures from the front and scenes recreated for the camera could be filmed. Now, for the first time, rare archive footage in black and white from worldwide sources, including Russia, Germany, France, Italy, the USA and the Imperial War Museum, London, has been recast into colour with the greatest care and attention to detail. The results are breathtaking, bringing a remarkable immediacy and poignancy to the war which consumed the lives of 10 million soldiers and civilians.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverImages of war : World War One : a photographic record of New Zealanders at war 1914-1918
“In this photographic collection from the archives of the Waiouru Army Museum, renowned military historian Glyn Harper has selected and annotated the story of Kiwis at the front during the First World War.” (Syndetics)

Cartoons:
For many confronted with the effects or aftermath of the war’s violence, photos were too graphic for daily consumption. Caricatures and cartoons served as a release valve—allowing citizens to make fun of politicians, or the enemy, to offset the dire realities of the day. The period was a high point for illustrated magazines, and cartoons were contemporary commentaries.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in cartoons
“Using images from a wide variety of international wartime magazines, newspapers, books, postcards, posters and prints, Mark Bryant tells the history of World War I from both sides of the conflict in an immediate and refreshing manner that brings history alive. The book contains more than 300 cartoons and caricatures, in colour and black and white, many of which are published here in book form for the first time. Artists featured include such famous names as Bruce Bairnsfather, H.M.Bateman, F.H.Townshend, Alfred Leete, E.J. Sullivan, Lucien Metivet and Louis Raemaekers, with drawings from the Bystander, London Opinion, Daily Graphic, Punch, Le Rire, Simplicissimus and Kladderadatsch amongst many others.” (Syndetics)

Art and medicine:
Drawings, portraits and photographs were used to help the four pioneering plastic surgeons of the two world wars to reconstruct the faces of disfigured servicemen and civilians.

Syndetics book coverReconstructing faces : the art and wartime surgery of Gillies, Pickerill, McIndoe & Mowlem
“The two world wars played an important role in the evolution of plastic and maxillofacial surgery in the first half of the 20th century. This book is about four of the key figures involved. Sir Harold Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe were born in Dunedin; McIndoe and Rainsford Mowlem studied medicine at the University of Otago Medical School, and Henry Pickerill was foundation Dean of the University of Otago Dental School.” (Syndetics)

How the First World War shaped the future of Western art:
The First World War utterly changed the way artists looked at the world. Throughout Western art, the grim realities of industrial warfare led to a backlash against the propaganda and grandiose nationalism that had sparked the conflagration. Cynicism toward the ruling classes and disgust with war planners and profiteers led to demands for art forms that were honest and direct, less embroidered with rhetoric and euphemism.

Syndetics book coverEsprit de corps : the art of the Parisian avant-garde and the First World War, 1914-1925
“In analyzing the changes in modern art between the outbreak of World War I and the Paris Exposition des Arts Dcoratifs of 1925, Kenneth Silver shows that the Parisian avant-garde was deeply involved in French society and its dominant values and relationships. He radically reinterprets masterpieces of modern art, from Matisse and Picasso to Léger and Le Corbusier, demonstrating how their creators all refer, consciously or not, to the Great War and its aftermath.” (Syndetics)

Large scale ANZAC display at the Central Library

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For the past year, in the lead up to the Centenary of the Gallipoli landings, Wellington City librarians have been producing a series of contributions highlighting various aspects of our collection where you can find resources related to this major historical event. Our latest addition, inspired by a recent blog post http://bit.ly/1DNZ48J about Charlotte Le Gallais, one of the nurses who went to Gallipoli on the Maheno hospital ship, is a large scale exhibition about her story, highlighting the various online resources available for history and ancestry research. Come to the Central Library and discover her fascinating story.

You can also contribute your family stories in our “Scrapbook of Memories” kept by the display. For more resources on WW1, browse our series at www.wcl.govt.nz/ww100

 

Nursing our boys: a Kiwi aboard the first hospital ship

Nurses RegisterCharlotte (Lottie) Le Gallais is a distant relative of mine, who joined the New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps. Her registration details can be found in the New Zealand Registers of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, 1873, 1882-1933, from the Ancestry database (available in-library only. Check out our Genealogy page for further information). She was one of fourteen nursing sisters who were selected for the first voyage of Hospital Ship No. 1 (the ‘Maheno’), which left Wellington 10 July 1915, and was bound for Gallipoli.

Here is a photograph of the ship in the 14 July 1915 issue of The New Zealand Herald, retrieved for the PapersPast database accessible from our Newspapers and History database pages. The page is full of War-related articles, a year into the 4 year campaign. (Click on the image to enlarge)New Zealand Herald, July 14, 1915 SMALL

Lottie completed her voyage, and was posted to the retired list 21 June 1916. On her return to New Zealand, she married her fiancé, Charles Gardner, with whom she had two children. Lottie died in 1956.

Two of Lottie’s four brothers served in WWI – Leddra (Leddie), who was killed in action at Gallipoli 23 July 1915, and Owen, who fought in France, and survived the war to return home.

A book was written about Lottie, and this is in our collections:

Lottie: Gallipoli Nuse coverLottie : Gallipoli nurse / text by John Lockyer ; illustrations by Alan Barnett.
“An extraordinary account of a nurse’s journey to Gallipoli aboard the New Zealand hospital ship Maheno. Her experiences include caring for the wounded and coping with the death of her brother Leddie, who was killed in action. Based on the letters of Lottie and Leddie Le Gallais and the war diary of John Duder.” (Syndetics summary)

Other titles

Syndetics book coverAnzac girls : the extraordinary story of our World War I nurses / Peter Rees.
“By the end of World War I, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service, and over 200 had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance, but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours. Profoundly moving, this is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognized in our history. Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.” (Syndetics summary)

White Ships coverThe white ships : New Zealand’s First World War hospital ships / Gavin McLean.
“In 1915 the government chartered the trans-Tasman liners Maheno and Marama for use as our first hospital ships. For the next four years, starting with the Maheno off the beach at Gallipoli, they travelled the globe, staffed by Kiwi seamen, doctors and nurses. Back home, thousands of New Zealanders made items and raised money to support these ‘mercy ships’ and followed their movements closely as they transported the sick and wounded from many countries.” (Syndetics summary)

“Offspring of the battlefield” – WWI Kiwi soldiers in their own words at WCL

009100 years on from the First World War, there is no shortage of beautifully researched and written books on the subject by historians, sociologists, poets and others. Over the last few months, Wellington City Libraries has highlighted some of these books in our collection. However, our collection doesn’t stop with books written about New Zealanders in the First World War – we also hold those beloved items, original sources – items written and published by New Zealand troops, while still engaged in the war. New Zealand at the Front is one of these – words (and pictures and cartoons) from soldiers’ own pens.

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The two editions of New Zealand At the Front (1917 and 1918) were written as an ‘annual’, a yearly magazine stuffed full of poetry, short funny stories, cartoons and drawings. “Written and illustrated”, as the cover boasts, “in France by Men of the New Zealand Division”. The editor’s note introduces the contributions and the men who wrote them:

   The contributions for this book have come from Trench, Dug-out, and Billet. They are the offspring of the Battlefield. … If they have neither the quality of culture nor of genius, at least they … reflect something of the ideas, the temperament, and the life of men who, from a sense of duty, find themselves engaged in a mighty conflict in a strange environment, far from their own land.

These might be modified raptures, but the contents of the annual lived up to their introduction as a reflection of the men who wrote and drew for its pages, many of whom are identified only by initials, or various nom de plumes.

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The articles are stuffed with in-jokes and references obviously well-understood among the troops who penned them at the time, but bewildering today. Luckily, the editors seem to have anticipated some difficulties in translation, and provided a handy and tongue-in-cheek glossary for confused readers (a modern reader may wish to have a dictionary handy nevertheless!)

Other sections, and formats, are instantly recognisable. The annual contains many cartoons, often poking fun at officers or other soldiers’ quirks – the familiarity of life in close quarters visible in modern comic strips. Those familiar with the “How my boss sees me/ how my mother sees me/ how my friends see me” internet comic form can even see a distant cousin in one cartoon published in the annual, which compares, wryly, how “the padre sees us”, “higher command ‘seize’ us”, “mademoiselle sees us”, and “Mater sees us” – each sketch wildly different from the others (and proving the point that acute punning transcends time!).

013010The pre-occupations and domestic details of life behind the line loom large in the contents of the annual. From a full-colour watercolour of “Private Purripeef” displaying a haul of cans, to a story of nicknaming friends after “bulla-biff”, to a mournful piece titled “A Tragedy of the Line” – in which the tragic victim of a bombing is revealed to be a can of ‘Fray Bentos’ bully beef – tinned beef recurs as a subject at the top of many minds. Long marches are also a popular subject – a soldier identified only as ‘Rewi’ writes a tragi-comic poem about the significance of good footwear, which including the lines

Boots! Boots! Boots!

Till your latest breath

They will climb the hill to fame,

Trudge the road to Death,

Or march back the road you came.

Although many articles in the annuals are light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek, others are sombre, describing the desolation of their authors’ surroundings. A soldier named only as “Q” submits an article describing the “Red Lodge … as lovely a spot, maybe, as there is in the whole of Flanders”, which he and his companion Bob discovered in a Flemish field. Q writes “Bob said I remember, that it reminded him of a scarlet poppy on the mossy bank” – echoing the now-familiar theme of poppies marking war graves. “It is all changed now,” Q continues, describing the later destruction of the lodge. “Bob was killed on that accursed corner…” It’s possible that Q had read the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields”, published in Punch, before he wrote his 1917 piece. The image of red poppies marking a war grave or memorial is one we now all recognise.020

The editor, who hoped these annuals would provide an honest reflection of their authors, may have been more right than he knew. The two volumes of New Zealand at the Front display incredible diversity of subjects, tone, and breadth of ability, many contributions beautifully and humorously done. The diversity of the men who wrote and sent in their contributions from “Trench, Dug-out and Billet” is just as apparent as their humour, and leaves us, 100 years later, a fascinatingly direct snapshot of New Zealanders at war.

New Zealand at The Front is held in the New Zealand Reference Stack Collection, and can be requested for viewing at the Second Floor Reference Desk, Central Library.