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.
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.
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 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.’”
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
Deborah Pitts Taylor was ahead of her time. A woman who believed in female empowerment, she drove First World War ambulances in Brockenhurst, England, transporting convoys of wounded ANZAC soldiers to the hospital.
Her granddaughter Dr. Janet Frater and great-granddaughter Deborah Rose, (named after Deborah Pitts Taylor) recently visited The Great War Exhibition to see Women’s War, which highlights Deborah’s contribution to the war.
Janet lived with Deborah as a child, and says that Deborah’s determination to help in the war and do a “man’s job” has empowered her female ancestors. Janet grew up knowing women could do anything, and went on to study medicine at a time when she was one of only 12 women in her class of 60.
The New Zealand Herald interviewed Janet about her Deborah’s contribution to the First Word War, her influence on their family, and the ties they still nurture with the village of Brockenhurst. Please read their article here.
For more information about Women’s War, which closes in mid May, click here.
This week’s New Zealand Women’s Weekly features a story about Susanna Montgomerie who is one of the co-editor’s of Annie’s War, which features extracts from the diary of Annie Montgomerie, Susanna’s grandmother who traveled to London to be near her sons when they served in the First World War.
The full New Zealand Women’s Weekly article is now available online: click here.