In this update: lottery funding decisions, an international meeting and visit by the British Minister, launch of a new publication, an award and progress updates on several centenary projects.
Lottery funding outcome
The second of three WW100 funding rounds by the Lottery Grants Board has just been announced. The decision-making committee allocated $2.7 million across 29 projects from the general events and projects pool, and made one grant of $3.6 million from the projects of national significance pool. The full results are on our funding page.
This round was much larger than the first round, reflecting how community organisations are gearing up for the centenary. There’s a real diversity of projects being supported, including a lecture series, exhibitions, a play, research, publications, digitisation of records, a film, commemorative events, restoration of memorials and museum development. There’s a good geographic reach too, including our first overseas project — helping those real friends of New Zealand in Messines (Mesen) in Belgium tell the story of New Zealand’s First World War involvement in that significant battle.
The funding assessors at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) consult widely when considering these applications. The WW100 Programme Office provides advice to the DIA moderation panel, and the First World War Centenary Panel provides advice to the Lottery Grants Board committee that makes the decision on funding. This degree of collaboration is much appreciated, and helps ensure that dedicated lottery funding for WW100 projects is supporting a rich and varied community-led programme for the centenary.
The lead minister for New Zealand’s First World War centenary programme, Hon Christopher Finlayson, took part in a meeting in Paris last month on centenary planning that was attended by 32 countries. This was followed by a meeting for directors of national programmes that I participated in.
Some of the key themes to come out of both meetings:
- The centenary provides an opportunity to strengthen international cooperation, and to reinforce the reconciliation and close integration that now exists amongst the many nations who took part in the conflict, including those who were adversaries.
- It is important to pass on the memory and lessons of the First World War to younger generations, to help them understand the need to constantly build understanding and peaceful relations among countries.
- The centenary is not just about commemorating battles. Recognition of the far-reaching geostrategic, political, economic and social impacts of the war will be the focus of much writing, debate, reflection and research in all countries present.
- Each country is approaching the centenary through its own national lens, so rather than one international programme to commemorate the war there will be many national programmes. There is a desire for a high degree of international coordination, particularly over ceremonial events. European countries are particularly keen on cross-border initiatives, for instance in culture and historical research.
Countries from both sides of the battle lines in the First World War were present. Germany’s most senior foreign policy official made a real impact with his statement that the German state and people were deeply committed to commemorate the war with dignity and an awareness of Germany’s responsibility for what happened in Europe in the 20th century, while looking forward to ways to ensure that Europe remains a place of freedom and peace.
Different countries are at different stages with their preparations, but New Zealand is certainly in the A team. Our approach of a less centrally-directed and more community-initiated centenary programme is most similar to that of the UK. As Britain’s representative said at the meeting:
- remembrance is foremost, but there must be more otherwise we would leave a poor legacy for the future
- introducing a new generation to learn about the war and its impact is a vital part of that legacy
- the UK government is non-prescriptive, and its role is to provide a structure for people to talk and learn about the war (causes, conduct and consequences) but not to interpret events through any particular ideology or contemporary lens
- the centenary is an opportunity to foster reconciliation, and all countries should strive to end up at the end of the centenary period in a better diplomatic space than we are now.
British minister visits
The British Prime Minister’s special adviser on the First World War centenary visited New Zealand in October. Dr Andrew Murrison, a former Royal Navy medical officer, is also Minister for International Security Strategy.
He devoted half a day of his short New Zealand programme to WW100 matters. After meeting Minister Finlayson he called in to the National Library to see how our heritage institutions are collecting and preserving First World War-related material, and making digital copies available as a public resource for the centenary and beyond.
Dr Murrison also visited the site of the new National War Memorial Park, and met senior staff from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Defence Force, Department of Internal Affairs and WW100 programme office.
National War Memorial Park on track
Ministers Finlayson and Brownlee visited the site of the new National War Memorial Park on 3 October, one year since work began on digging the trench for the new alignment of Buckle Street, below the future park. You can see more in this news report with video clip and this press release.
New Zealand and the First World War
In the September update I gave a sneak preview of an innovative publication that’s part of the centennial history series. New Zealand and the First World War is a lavishly-illustrated book, and gives an authoritative but highly-readable overview of the war from its outbreak in 1914 to the Versailles peace treaty in 1919.
It’s comprehensive — covering the campaigns in Europe and the Middle East, the war at sea and in the air, Māori and Pacific involvement, and the political, economic and social impact at home. There's more detail about the book on the firstworldwar.govt.nz website.
The book has been written by Ministry for Culture & Heritage historians. It is aimed at a broad, general audience, but has the scholarly rigour to appeal to specialist readers.
The book went on sale on 25 October, and will be officially launched by His Excellency the Governor-General on 11 November.
The Berry Boys
One of Te Papa’s fascinating WW100 projects is to identify the First World War soldiers pictured in a stash of glass plate negatives that were nearly lost.
Many New Zealand soldiers had their photographs taken before heading off overseas to fight, but through their own initiative rather than any official programme. In the 1990s more than 100 negatives were found in a cupboard in a building in Wellington’s Cuba Street; photographs of soldiers and often their families taken by professional photographers Berry & Company who had been based in that building.
Te Papa is now trying to identify the people in the negatives, discover their stories and if possible make contact with their relatives. Most of the negatives are identified with a surname, but the identity of only some has been discovered. In a real example of ‘crowdsourcing’, Te Papa is enlisting public help with this project.
This fascinating mystery was the subject of an episode of the Sunday current affairs programme in September. A documentary about the ‘Berry Boys’, as they’ve been dubbed, and the stories that are being unearthed, will screen in 2014 thanks to funding from NZ on Air.
Design award success
The Auckland War Memorial has confirmed 2014 for the launch of an enhanced Cenotaph database, which is being developed with funding support from the WW100 programme. The development will see the existing database become a comprehensive online hub for sharing the stories of those who served. An information booklet (PDF) provides more detail about the project.
Meet the team
Michael Pearson has joined the WW100 Programme Office as the Senior Communications Adviser. He has a particular focus on developing a long-term plan for the programme office’s communications work, but will of course also be managing the office’s routine communications functions. Michael has held senior communications roles in several government departments, before which he worked at public relations/communications companies. We’re very pleased to have him on board.
- Andrew Matheson, Director First World War Centenary Programme