Dean O’Gorman’s photographic exhibition, Passchendaele – The Elusive Familiarity of War, which is running until we close our doors on 2 December, received a new photo to commemorate the 101st anniversary of Passchendaele , ‘New Zeland’s darkest day’.
There is a story behind all of Dean’s photos hanging in our grand foyer. A story of passion and empathy for those who went through the trials and experienced the mud and suffering of Passchendaele.
To create his exhibition, Dean, an actor and photographer, recreated the muddy quagmire of the battlefield on an Auckland farm. As Armistice draws near, with its focus on healing and repatriation, and to honour the contribution of women, Dean made nurses at the front the focus of his latest photograph.
Dean’s video below shows us how the action may have been for men fighting in the Great War. For more information about the exhibition, including a link to a documentary of Dean researching his ancestors, click here.
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.
In August, Annabella Gamboni of The Regional News chatted with Dave Clearwater, our General Manager, about his time in Wellington, what he loves about The Great War Exhibition and the hugely-successful Quinn’s Post Trench Experience.
Why do you think exhibitions like this are important for the public?
“The Great War Exhibition specifically, is telling a very important aspect of New Zealand’s history. You’ve only got to look at the attendance at ANZAC Days and how that’s growing. The youth are acknowledging now what our forbears went through a hundred plus years ago. It’s certainly not glorifying war, but it conveys to us younger people the hardship that our guys and gals went through.”
Can you share what kind of response you’ve had to the Quinn’s Post Trench Experience?
“Oh, unbelievably emotive. It’s very difficult to answer, because for most visitors, you want to ask, ‘Did you enjoy that?’ But it’s not that sort of experience.
“It affects people in different ways – whether it was the smells, and they say, ‘That really got me.’ Or it might be the explosions that happen when you’re walking through some of the confined tunnels … The beauty is if you’re exposed to something, you learn soothing new; you take away that new knowledge. Whether you ‘enjoyed it’ or not.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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?
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 Great War Exhibition will now close to the public
at 6pm on 2 December 2018
You may have seen the recent media coverage about our closure. The Great War Exhibition was always intended to be open for the duration of the centenary of the First World War. Recently, a possible lease extension was discussed, however, The Great War Exhibition will now close to the public at 6pm on 2nd December 2018.
Massey University will return to the Dominion Museum Building in 2019 following the closure of the Great War Exhibition after Armistice Day in November 2018.
The Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Massey University have come to an agreement that will enable the Exhibition to remain open for the Ministry’s planned Armistice Day centenary commemoration. The exhibition will close at the Dominion Museum Building at 6pm on December 2, 2018.
The Great War Exhibition was designed as a temporary exhibition, which would be open for the duration of the First World War centenary, Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Paul James says. “The Ministry appreciates Massey’s willingness to lease the building over the past four years to give people the opportunity to learn more about New Zealand’s First World War stories.
“We would also like to warmly thank the National Military Heritage Charitable Trust for their excellent work in running the exhibition and Sir Peter Jackson for developing the exhibition and lending his extensive collection of First World War artefacts and memorabilia.
“The Great War Exhibition has been an important part of the centenary programme. It has been well-attended by the public and made a significant contribution towards the programmes objectives around connecting people with this important era of our history.
“More than 400,000 people have visited the exhibition since it opened in April 2015. We encourage the public to take the opportunity to visit the Great War Exhibition and the Trench Experience before it closes,” Mr James says.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the University was delighted to host the exhibition through an important period in New Zealand’s history.
Professor Thomas says the University community is equally happy and excited to again be able to showcase its world-class College of Creative Arts including the Wellington School of Design in such an impressive facility.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Wellington to share in the fantastic work being produced by our students and staff in the fields of fine arts, creative media production, commercial music, and design,” Professor Thomas says.
“The iconic Grand Hall has been the scene of numerous exhibitions, performances and events for decades and it will be wonderful to have such an outstanding asset back in action for the college, the wider Massey University, including the colleges of Business, Health and Humanities and Social Sciences, and the public.
“Overlooking the National War Memorial and Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, it occupies an important place in Wellington’s history and future. It is the front door for Massey University’s Wellington campus and will once again provide an outstanding teaching and learning environment for the University’s students and staff,” Professor Thomas says.
Our new exhibition End of the War? – the final episode in Chapters of the Great War – opened on Thursday to acclaim from local and national media outlets.
Stuff reporter Amber Woolfe talked to Ashley Mackenzie-White who is the great grandniece of William Arthur Ham was the first New Zealand soldier killed in the First World War. Click here to see their interview.
Ben Irwin of NewsHub interviewed Steve La Hood of Story Inc, who created the seven Chapters of The Great War; and also talked to Jack McDonald, great grandson of Archibald Baxter, a conscientious objector from the First World War; and to Hugo Manson, the son of Cecil Manson, who was in Gallipoli at 19 years of age.
Frances Cook and Matt Mitchell of the New Zealand Herald spoke with Miria Pomare, great granddaughter of Māori Member of Parliament Sir Maui Pomare and his influential wife Lady Miria who supported the Māori and Pacific Islands contribution to the war. Their interview is here.
Radio New Zealand reporter Ruth Hill discusses the effect of the First World War on families with Tui Tararo, granddaughter of Private Frank Tararo, a Cook Islander who lost an arm fighting in the Māori battalion. Please click here to read the article.
The final episode in Chapters of the Great War – created by Story Inc and Dusk – is open from 26 July to late November at The Great War Exhibition. 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.
The Army News featured an article about our new The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, after editor Judith Martin visited The Great War Exhibition for a taste of Gallipoli.
Here is what Judith says about The Trench,
“The whiff of death, cordite and Galliploi vegetation swirls through the tight confines of the Quinn’s Post Trenches.”
“The Quinn’s Post Trench experience has been created by Sir Peter Jackson, and it shows. It is a combination of his genius ability at spinning yarns, but also encompasses his passion for First World War military history, and making the experiences of Great War soldiers come alive.”
The article is below. This complete edition of NZ Army News is available here. The Trench Experience was created by Sir Peter Jackson and his WingNut Films team. To book The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience please click here.
The American Embassy invite you to hear Jack Rogo speak at the Great War Exhibition on June 5th, from 6-7pm.
On the morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jack Rogo, a 19 year old Navy Storekeeper 3rd Class, working in the Aviation Supply Department, was having breakfast in the mess. The building convulsed. Jack and his colleagues did not pay attention as the rumor was that the armory was on maneuvers, but some of the explosions were very loud, and they just couldn’t comprehend what was going on. After breakfast, he went onto the lanai to see what was happening and could not believe his eyes. There was no way to fight back. The ships were sinking and turning over.
Men were swimming to shore, if they could, and the dead and badly wounded were floating on the water. Jack volunteered to go out to pick up those wounded who could not make it to shore.
Everything was in such disarray that they shot down some of their own planes that evening. Engineers were needed to plan the uprighting of the sunken ships. Ford Island never became normal again.
Now 97, Jack is a celebrity in Los Angeles and visits local schools to recount the December 7, 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor and the other four years he and his fellow heroes served in the Pacific during World War II. Jack is a character and lives life to the fullest – he sky dived for the first time at 88 and had a Pearl Harbor tattoo he designed, etched on his arm when he was 96. He has an endearing and contagious nature and is an inspiration to everyone he meets.
Dan King, the project manager and art director behind The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, spent 18 months on the job, ensuring The Trench was as authentic as possible, so visitors are able to experience what it was like to be in the dangerous trenches of Gallipoli in 1915.
Dan, a Carterton resident, talks to reporter Steve Rendle of the Wairarapa Times Age about his experiences, which involved shooting machine guns, weighing wet plaster (to conform to the building’s weight restrictions) and working with Sir Peter Jackson, whose attention to detail enabled the crew to “make this the closest thing to being there.”
For more about this exciting view behind the Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, see the full news article here.
The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience officially opened in mid April and we’ve been swept off our feet with visitors keen to experience the sights, sounds and noises of the trenches in Gallipoli (courtesy of Sir Peter Jackson and his creative team at WingNut).
Now that we have a moment to catch our breath, we’d like to share some of our photos and media coverage of The Trench.