NZ'S FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY 2014–2019

Never Such Innocence Poetry & Art Competition and Songs of the Centenary

05 February 2018

Never Such Innocence logo

Calling all budding poets, artists, and songwriters across New Zealand to play their part in the First World War centenary

Children across the world are coming together to mark the centenary of the First World War through the creative arts. Never Such Innocence runs an international competition inviting all 9-16 year olds to submit poetry, art and song inspired by the Great War. Submissions can be on any subject related to the First World War. Art entries can be in any medium, and poetry and song entries in all languages.

In 2014 the competition was piloted in the UK, and by 2015/16 Never Such Innocence was receiving entries from across the world including the United States, Portugal, Belgium and New Zealand! One of the entries from New Zealand was picked as second place in the age 9-11 poetry category. An invitation was extended to the winner, Pieta Bayley, to attend a prestigious Awards Ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in London with not much hope that she would be able to attend. However, to the delight of Never Such Innocence and all involved, Pieta successfully crowdfunded in her community for the air fare and was able to collect her prize from the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger.

Lemon Squeezer Boneyard by Pieta Bayley

Boots stomp through mud to slog up a steep Gallipoli cliff

Soldier’s faces are ever grim

Poppies with graceful poise are trampled by feet

Guns fire in a canon

Bullets dance

People abandon the earth

The souls of many take a starlit staircase from the trenches into the heavens

One shell-shocked soldier longs for home

yet all he sees are skulls wearing lemon squeezers

His mind is troubled and his matted hair as white as the snow that blanketed the dead in their eternal slumber

A row boat answers his call to a far-flung birthplace Aotearoa

He wakes in his bed crying out for his friends but he hears no reply

They are lost in a hallucination of terrors from a distant land

When asked about what inspired Pieta to write her poem she said: I was inspired to write this poem after finding out last year on the 100th year anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli that my Great-Great-Great Uncle Lance Sargent Arthur Greenwood of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles was killed in action at Gallipoli on the night of 6th of August 1915. He was involved in an attack as part of the beginning of the main assault on Chunuk Bair over the next days. Arthur was 24. He had been given by his father the best horse from his stable called Aladdin, but never got to ride him in war as they couldn’t take horses to Gallipoli due to the steep cliffs. We don’t know what happened to Aladdin.”

And about the competition: “Entering Never Such Innocence is a great opportunity to creatively express your thoughts about war. And to remember and to honour those people who served.”


Never Such Innocence is inviting children and young people across New Zealand to consider themes of homecoming, peace, reflection and gratitude when thinking about their competition entries. Entries inspired by these themes will be eligible for special bonus prizes courtesy of WW100 New Zealand.

To inspire children’s entries, Never Such Innocence produce an educational resource which is distributed free of charge to schools upon request, and is available to download online. Through working with Embassies, High Commissions and historians, the resource offers multiple perspectives on the war. Readers can learn more about topics such as the role of spies, the Salonika Campaign and the contribution of New Zealand, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and many others. To obtain a resource pack for your school simply email enquiries@neversuchinnocence.com.

Children and young people may also engage with the centenary through music and song. The music strand of the competition, Songs of the Centenary, is powered by Trackd and in partnership with Dave Stewart Entertainment. Trackd is an app that enables children to create music and lyrics, or record their lyrics to pre-existing music, and enter their creation into our competition. This means that no musical background is needed for children to enter. Winners of Songs of the Centenary will also be invited to our Awards Ceremony and all entrants will receive a certificate of commendation.

Full competition details plus a quiz, lesson plans, and previous winning entries may be found on the Never Such Innocence website. The closing date has been extended for international entries to Friday 30th March 2018. The final Awards Ceremony will be an extra special occasion with some exciting surprises so one not to miss!

This is your last chance to play your part in the centenary! In 2018 Never Such Innocence shall collate a lasting legacy of the children’s work. An album of the Songs of the Centenary will be released and a book containing all of the winning poetry and art entries from the four centenary years will be published, preserved for generations to come – The Children’s Centenary.

Collage of 2014 winners

For more information please contact:

Lucy Kentish, Head of Operations, Never Such Innocence, lk@neversuchinnocence.com

For press enquiries:

Jessica Hodson Walker, Jessica.hodsonwalker@newgatecomms.com

+44 207 680 6538

About Never Such Innocence

Never Such Innocence is a registered charity (number 1156148) in England and Wales and is a unique project fitting into the wider series of 2014-2018 centenary activities. The driving force behind Never Such Innocence is Lady Lucy French, great-granddaughter of Field Marshal Sir John French who commanded the British Expeditionary Forces from 1914-15.

Never Such Innocence aims to engage children in the First World War commemorations through the creative arts. The charity run an annual poetry, art, and songs competition for 9-16 year olds worldwide for each year of the centenary. The Never Such Innocence competition is free to enter and provide free resources to all schools, including a resource booklet on the First World War which provides information about many different themes of the War to inspire children to enter the competition.


Winning entires with a New Zealand connection

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