Tag Archives: Events

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.

Media Coverage of End of the War?

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.

NewsHub in action, Ben Irwin interviews Briar Barry and Steve LaHood of Story Inc. and Hugo Manson and Jack McDonald

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.

Radio Waatea interviewed Miria Pomare and Jack McDonald, both of Māori descent.

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 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.

Open 6:30am on ANZAC Day in Wellington

This ANZAC Day in Wellington, The Great War Exhibition will open at 6:30 a.m. to welcome visitors who have attended the 6 a.m. memorial service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, next door.

A full list of ANZAC memorial services is available at The Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Wellington City Council.  After attending memorial services for our ANZAC troops, visitors are welcome to explore The Great War Exhibition at their leisure.

We have a variety of attractions with the Exhibition, including:

We welcome you to explore an important part of New Zealand’s history.

 

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.

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.

Passchendaele Reunion 100 O’Malley Descendants

Emma Bradley organised a family reunion for over 100 relatives, all descendants of her grandfather who was wounded at Passchendaele in 1917. The reunion, held at The Great War Exhibition, was a chance for some of Paul O’Malley’s 11 children, 45 grandchildren and over 80 great-grandchildren to gather together while learning more about the First World War.

Emma’s grandfather, Second Lieutenant Peter Paul O’Malley, known as Paul, was born in 1897 in Ireland and immigrated to Central Otago. He and his brother enlisted from Nasbey, Central Otago while Paul was a law student. He served with the North Otago Regiment.

Sir Peter Jackson, whose company WingNut Films created the Exhibition, supplied a signed colourised image of Passchendaele, which was presented to Emma. The family members viewed the temporary exhibition, Passchendaele – New Zealand’s Darkest Day, and had a special guided tour of The Great War Exhibition.

Fairfax reporters recognised the significance of this event and attended the family reunion. Click here to see their article and accompanying photos, and click here to see an Otago Daily Times article.

Emma Bradley, who organised her family reunion for 100 descendants of Passchendaele survivor Paul O’Malley, holding a colourised, signed image of Passchendaele, from Sir Peter Jackson. Behind Emma, is the 1.7m family tree she created for the occasion.
O'Mally Family Reunion at The Great War Exhibition.
Descendants of Paul O’Malley with the colourised image of Passchendaele signed and donated by Sir Peter Jackson.

Passchendaele survivor's descendants gather at The Great War Exhibition.

To book a function at The Great War Exhibition, please contact our friendly staff on 04 978 2500 or email Info@GreatWarExhibition.nz

Pukeahu Historic Tours – Wellington City Heritage Week

The Great War Exhibition are thrilled to be hosting specialty tours during Wellington City Heritage Week (23rd – 29th  October).

Fascinating Pukeahu historic tours

Let our knowledgeable tour guides take you on a journey through layers of fascinating history at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Understand the history at Pukeahu, Mt Cook, in the heart of the city and how it was transformed from a site of Maori occupation, to a military barracks, and now a site of national remembrance.

Pukeahu Historic Tour
Great War Exhibition tour guide, Chris Harp, will show you tunnels from the First World War as part of the Pukeahu Historic Tour (Wellington City Heritage Week 2018).

More information about Pukeahu Historic Tours is available here.

Wellington City Heritage Week, 23rd – 29th  October, explores Wellington’s people, places, and stories through tours, exhibitions, open properties, films, and discussions. Over 20 events are spread through the week, suitable for all interests and ages.

Pukeahu Historic Tours Wellington City Heritage Week

Dissent in the Cook Strait News

Our temporary exhibition, Dissent is in the newspaper, making the front page of the Cook Strait News. The exhibition, which focuses on opposition to the First World War, runs until October. More information about Dissent is available here.

The Cook Strait News Article is online here.

Other media coverage of Dissent is Radio New Zealand and Maori Television.

Dissent - a different type of courage