Category Archives: Events

Cecil Manson at Gallipoli – The End of The War?

How Gallipoli brought a British soldier to New Zealand

Wairarapa Times Age reporter Steve Rendle interviewed Hugo Manson, one of our participants in The End of the War? and found out how his British father’s experience at Gallipoli influenced him into emigrating to New Zealand.

This is an excellent article about how Cecil saw the war — with great insight into his personal experiences and the way they shaped his life, and the lives of his family members.

Gallipoli holds a special place in the history of New Zealand. Masterton’s Hugo Manson heard first-hand from his father what it was like to be there.

“In effect, Gallipoli was his first job . . . and within an hour of his first job, the soldier next to him was shot dead.”

Masterton’s Hugo Manson is talking about his father – or, more accurately, his father’s experience of the World War I campaign regarded as a key part of nation-building for New Zealand.

But Cecil Manson wasn’t fighting with the Anzac troops – his British 2nd 4th Queens Surrey Regiment was operating over the hill from the New Zealanders and Australians on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

“But he met a lot of New Zealanders, and he was terribly impressed,” Hugo Manson recalls. “He thought they had an extremely free way of treating things and treating people.

The article also discusses Cecil’s contribution to the second world war, which Hugo, at the time, had understood was ‘administrative’. It wasn’t until years later, that Hugo discovered his father had been involved Bletchley Park, a British code-breaking center during the Second World War. Click here to see The Wairarapa Times Age article about Cecil’s  Manson’s service and the effect it had on his family.

Enjoy our You Tube teaser of Hugo’s story.

An audio-visual exhibition,  The End of The War? looks at the war-time experiences of nine people – men and women, Māori and Pākehā, Pasifika and Asian – and explores how the impact of their experiences has stretched through the generations, connecting these long-dead New Zealanders to their families 100 years on.

The End of the War? is created by Story Inc. and Dusk, and funded by the Lottery Grants Board. To see The End of the War? and book a guided tour of The Great War Exhibition or a Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, please click here.

Tui Tararo talks about her Grandfather Frank Tararo

The End of the War?, our new audiovisual show, is an emotionally moving experience.

Hearing New Zealanders talk about the effect of the First World War on their families through the generations can bring  a tear to your eye. Many of the show’s participants had a journey of discovery in bringing to light the stories of their ancestors who served in the war effort.

Frank Tararao's granddaughter, Tui, talks about his service in WW1
Private Frank Tararao lost his arm in the First World War at the Somme, France. He was the only one of 500 enlisted soldiers from Rarotonga to return to his island.

But it wasn’t just soldiers who suffered. During the show, descendants of nurses, ambulance drivers, patriotic supporters and conscientious objectors share how the war affected their loved ones.

Tui Tararo, the granddaughter of Private Frank Tararo, from Rarotonga, says she hopes he would have been proud to see himself remembered. Frank was among 500 men who enlisted from Rarotonga, and the only one to return to his island from the war.

He enlisted in October 1915 and was sent with the 3rd Maori Contingent to Egypt, and then went on to the front line at Somme, France. Frank Tararo’s lower arm was shredded by shrapnel, and although he survived, his arm was amputated.

Read more about Tui’s perspective and Frank’s story below in the Cook Strait News or at Radio NZ’s website.

First World War Descendants -The End of the War?

The End of the War? our new exhibition, created by Story Inc. and Dusk, shows the effect of the First World War on New Zealanders, and features interviews with descendants of people who had a variety of roles in the war—soldiers, patriotic supporters, conscientious objectors, politicians and nurses.

Lois Wilson, Vic Singe and Felicity Siemmens are three of the descendants featured in the show.

Vic and Felicity are the grandchildren of Victor Sing, who was one of the four ‘fighting Sings’—New Zealand-Irish-Chinese brothers who fought at The Western Front and The Somme. The brothers, Herbert, Albert (known as Victor), Robert and Arthur, were all living in Grey Lynn when they enlisted.

Herbert was a signaller on telephone duty during a bombardment when the telephone wire was repeatedly broken. Each time, Herbert went out to repair the wire, under fire, to keep the lines of communication open. He was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal for deeds of exceptional bravery.

During the production of the show, Vic and Felicity learned of a letter that Private Albert Sing wrote home about his brother Herbert’s death.

Private Albert Sing wrote, It was only a few weeks previous… that Herbert made a name for himself in a strafe. He was on duty at the telephone when the wire was broken on three different occasions…. He was a great loss to us all and his comrades, for he had many, and was well liked. But it’s hard, Mother, to bear our loss bravely.”

Felicity Siemmens and Vic Singe outside The Great War Exhibition, which is currently screening The End of the War?, a show about the effects of the First World War on New Zealand families.

As Vic says in the show, “He was a ‘Fighting Sing’ till the end for sure, you know. And brave as, going out there and doing it.”

Many participants in The End of the War? mention the effects of the First World War on subsequent generations. Felicity explains, “They had help with their physical wounds, but their psychological wounds really remained. And remained, perhaps, down through the generations.”

The show gave Vic and Felicity the experience of seeing their relatives honoured, and having their story acknowledged in a public space.

Felicity says, “Story Inc has provided our family with a unique opportunity to remember a grandfather and an uncle in a very special way. Albert and Herbert are now being remembered and honoured. It was an honour to pay tribute to an uncle we never knew in the flesh. Pretty amazing … information has come to light in this WW1 Exhibition and shone a spotlight on the past.”

Read more about the fighting Sings here.

Lois Wilson is the niece-in-law of Louisa Higginson who served as a nurse in the First World War. Lois recently visited to see the show. It was quite an emotional experience for her.

Lois says, “Louisa was given the position of being in charge of a prisoner of war camp and they were German prisoners.”

Louisa wrote home, “I feel so disgusted and ashamed to think I have to nurse the Huns. This is what I paid my fare and came 16,000 miles for. It is a beautiful place and should be used for our boys.”

Lois commented, “But she would do her duty. And she did.”

Lois Wilson and her daughter Glenys. Lois is the great niece of Louisa Higginson, who served as a nurse in the First World War. Hugo Manson is pictured behind them, right, holding a photo of his father Cecil who served in Gallipoli.

Nowadays, attitudes to war are different. “With the stories we heard, we just wondered why they went. I often think, even now, I doubt that the males of the country would think of going to war now,” Lois says in The End of the War?

Read more about Louisa Higginson here.

Kate Manson, the script writer for Story Inc, whose father Hugo Manson and grandfather Cecil Manson (who served at Gallipoli) feature in the show, says being involved in writing the scripts and seeing the final product was an emotional experience. “There was a real connection with their families, discovering their ancestors and their stories and acknowledging what they did.”

The End of the War? is showing at The Great War Exhibition until doors close to the public at 6pm on December 2nd 2018. Book your guided tour or Trench Experience here.

The End of the War? Opens Today

The End of the War? our new audio-visual exhibition showcasing the effect of the First World War on New Zealanders opened today. This final episode in Chapters of the Great War – created by Story Inc and Dusk – was conceived as an inter-generational conversation about the war.  The descendants of eight New Zealanders who were involved in the First World War in different ways talk about its impact on their ancestors, and on the generations that followed.

Today, national  media attended the opening and interviewed some of the show participants about their experiences.

Ashley Mackenzie-White, whose great granduncle William Arthur Ham was the first New Zealand soldier killed in the First World War (in the Middle East) is one of the eight descendants who speaks in the show. Here’s short snippet of her contribution.

 

The End of the War? looks at the war-time experiences of men and women, Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika and Asian. The feelings engendered by the war are as varied as the experiences of those who lived it — nurses, ambulance drivers, patriotic supporters, conscientious objectors, wounded soldiers and those killed in action.

Private Frank William Tararo from the Cook Islands served in the Maori battalion and lost an arm. He was the only one of 500 to return to the islands after the war. His granddaughter, Tui Tararo, says, “I have to think about my sons and my daughter. I would probably be the parent that would be standing there saying ‘No, this is not our war.’”

Tui Tararo - the End of the War?
Tui Tararo, Private Frank Tararo’s granddaughter

New Zealand’s most famous conscientious objector, Archibald Baxter was one of four New Zealand pacifists who were physically forced to go to the front. His great-grandson Jack Baxter comments, “I’ve always found ANZAC Day quite challenging growing up… and that’s not because I don’t think that we should be remembering or commemorating World War One — I absolutely think we should be, to learn those lessons.”

 

NewsHub Jack McDonald The End of the War
Jack McDonald is interviewed by NewsHub

Hugo Manson, son of Cecil Manson, who was only 19 years old at Gallipoli, reflects upon his father’s experience. “Not to go, is not to support, or not to be helping, what a lot of other people have no choice being a part of.”

The End of the War?
NewsHub interview Briar Barry and Steve La Hood of StoryInc., and Hugo Manson and Jack McDonald

Māori Member of Parliament Sir Maui Pomare and his influential wife Lady Miria were at the forefront of the Māori and Pacific Islands contribution to the war. Sir Maui was Chairman of the Maori Recruiting Board responsible for recruiting the Māori Battalion, and visited the Cook Islands to recruit the Rarotongan Contingent.  Lady Miria launched the Maori Soldiers’ Fund in 1915, which provided comforts to Māori soldiers overseas.

Miria Pomare talks about the effects of World War One on her family
Miria Pomare talks about the effects of World War One on her family

“I’m sure there were regrets,” her great-granddaughter, Miria Pomare says. “She had a real empathy, as Sir Maui did, with the Waikato people, the Taranaki people — his people — who struggled with the notion of sending their sons to fight a pākehā war on the other side of the world. When those lists of Māori deaths were first released, I think that she and Maui would have felt a very very personal and deep sense of loss.”

The End of The War
Sound Engineer Jeremy Cullen tweaks the sound in the final stages of preparation.

Story Inc.’s blog post about the exhibition is here.

Leading up to commemorations of Armistice Day in November, this exhibition is a reminder that although the Great War ended, its effect on New Zealand society did not.

The End of the War? runs until late November 2018. To book general admission to the main exhibition, a guided tour, a Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, or a combo ticket for all three, please click here.

Anne Frank Let Me Be Myself is Open

Anne Frank – Let Me Be Myself, the life story of Anne Frank, opened last night and will be showing until  July 2018. Run by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, this new exhibition and its accompanying educational programme aims to inform young people about Anne Frank and the Holocaust, and challenge them to explore subjects like identity, prejudice and discrimination.

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance and prejudice in action,” said Wellington Mayor, Justin Lester, who officially opened the exhibition.

“No one in 1933 could have predicted the horror their country would experience. No one can predict the impact of fringe voices in society. It’s my job and your job, our job, to give nothing to racism. We must stand up to intolerance every time we see it.”

Mayor Justin Lester open Anne Frank Let Me Be Myself
Left to right: His Excellency, Dutch Ambassador, Robert Zaagman; His Worship Mayor of Wellington, Justin Lester; Chair, Anne Frank NZ, Boyd Klap; Chair, Holocaust Centre NZ, Jeremy Smith; His Excellency, German Ambassador, Gerhard Thiedemann; Director of Education, Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, Chris Harris.

Lester went on to praise the people of Wellington for their incredible tolerance and understanding, particularly of new migrants. But he emphasised that the positive reinforcement of this attitude must continue down the generations.

“This exhibition will illuminate, insight, and teach us to never forget and to learn from the horrors we have seen.”

Peer guides from Fiedling High School giving a tour to Mayor Justin Lester and other guests. Peers will guide school groups through the exhibition, helping youth understand the effects of discrimination.
Solveig Ramsay, from Tawa College, shows Dutch Ambassador, Rob Zaagman, a ‘Jood’ badge similar to the one Anne and her family would have be forced to wear.

The Anne Frank House launched this exhibition as the successor of the acclaimed exhibition, Anne Frank – a History for Today, which has been shown in 90 countries since 1995. The worldwide launch of Let Me Be Myself was in Canberra, Australia, in February 2015.

Anne Frank – Let Me Be Myself will run at the Dominion Museum Building, 15 Buckle Street, Wellington, between May 24th and July 22nd 2018.  The exhibition has no admission charge and is open to the public from 9am – 6pm daily. For more information, click here. To book a school group, please contact education@holocaustcentre.org.nz

Dr Gusky – The Human Connection – Messages to the Future from WW1

The American Embassy are hosting an a talk by Dr. Jeff Gusky, open to the public, on Wednesday February 28th at 6pm at The Great War Exhibition.

In 2014, National Geographic Photographer, Emergency Physician & Explorer, Dr. Jeff Gusky made a startling discovery. The underground site with the most WWI soldiers inscriptions anywhere on the Western Front was filled with century-old, handwritten messages by ANZAC soldiers. ANZAC forces hold the record as most prolific, having written more graffiti than any other army of WWI.

The most prolific American WWI unit was New England’s Yankee Division, which included Native American heroes who volunteered to fight though they would not be offered citizenship until years after WWI.  They left behind emotional carvings reflecting their ancient tribal traditions in underground cities in Picardy, not knowing that other native peoples like the New Zealand Maori were also contributing to the war effort and leaving their mark underground 100 miles north in Arras.

Thousands of WWI soldiers lived in hundreds of underground cities throughout The Great War.  The vastness of this network of WWI underground cities is still largely unknown.  Now in total darkness, these are time capsules which form a direct human connection between then and now.  The passage of hundred years seems like only a day. Once illuminated by electric lights, the walls of these underground cities contain beautiful works of art carved by soldiers who reconstituted a human world underground as the world’s first modern mass destruction raged on the surface.

Dr. Gusky’s presentation will take the audience on an emotional journey to experience The Hidden World of World War I.  He invites you to help him gain a deeper understanding of those who travelled to France ‘From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth’.

Admission to the talk is free of charge.

Women’s War – Opening this Week

Our exciting new exhibition, Women’s War, is opening this Friday, 23 February.

Catch a glimpse into the lives of six different types of New Zealand women who were active in the First World War—patriotic, supportive family, nurses, entertainers, independent workers and pioneers. Hear their voices come to life in a captivating audio-visual show. See examples of the clothing they used to wear. Experience the First World War from a woman’s perspective.

While men suffered ghastly atrocities on the battlefields, the women of New Zealand also faced the realities of war. Everyone was called upon to support the war effort—girls gave up their educations to tend to family farms, while other women volunteered by knitting socks for soldiers. Nurses fought to travel to the front lines to tend the sick and wounded, while others challenged the status-quo by pioneering campaigns on issues like venereal disease.

Please click here for more information about this fresh and compelling view of the Great War.

Palestine Exploration Fund features War in the Holy Lands

Photographs from the Palestine Exploration Fund of London were used by Story Inc. and Dusk in creating our latest touring exhibition, War in the Holy Lands, which tells the story of New Zealanders serving in the Middle East in the First world War.

Palestine Exploration Fund features War in the Holy Lands on blog

This blog post on the Palestine Exploration Fund’s website examines the exhibition, which tells heart-wrenching tales, often in the soldier’s own words. Here are a  few excerpts from the post:

“The exhibit uses six big projection screens and an immersive audio environment to create a powerful visitor experience out of still imagery and first-hand verbatim accounts of soldiers’ experiences.”

“Other moments that pack an emotional punch in War in the Holy Lands come from the stories about the bonds between the men and their horses.

We’d hear a heavy smack and know a horse had been hit. Mostly they were hit through the stomach and would just shake themselves a little. The owner would take the saddle off immediately, for it was always a mortal wound. The horse would nose around among his mates, shake himself, and five minutes later roll on the sand. It was the beginning of the end.”

— Captain Arthur Rhodes, New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade, World War 1

See the full Palestine Exploration Fund article here.

Holy Lands World War One in Egypt - Palestine Exploration Fund

War in the Holy Lands – Cook Strait News

Our latest touring exhibition, War in the Holy Lands featured in the Cook Strait News in late December. Reporter Jamie Adams interviewed James McLean, one of the creators from Story Inc., who co-produced War in the Holy Lands and many of our other touring exhibitions.

War in the Holy Lands runs until 20 February 2018 and shows a side of the Middle East that our soldiers never learned about in Sunday school. Read the article below or here.

 

Cook Strait - War in the Holy Lands
Jamie Adams interviews James McLean, whose silhouette is featured as General Allenby behind them in shadow play.

Lest We Forget The Other – Opening

The recent opening of our temporary exhibition, Lest We Forget The Other,  was celebrated by the New Zealand Chinese and Indian Communities with dignitaries, politicians and leaders of both ethnic communities attending.

The first of its kind, this temporary exhibition highlights the service of Chinese and Indian New Zealanders in the First World War and is on display until 25 March 2018. Lest We Forget – The Other tells individual stories, which are as diverse as the soldiers themselves. More information is available here.

Ian Wards, exhibition manager, says, “It was a colorful and vibrant evening with thought-provoking speeches – a good tribute to the NZ-Chinese and NZ-Indian soldiers who fought in the First World War.”

The opening was covered by OTV News here (see 16:18 mins) and featured in Wellington’s Independent Herald, and Asia Samachar, an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries.

 

The NZ Indian Central Association featured the event on their Facebook page.

Posted by NZ Indian Central Assn on Friday, 24 November 2017