WW100 – New Zealand's First World War Centenary Programme ran from 2014 to 2019

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October 2013 - Director's update

01 October 2013

In this update: discussions in Europe, new publications and resources, a new funding source, and announcement of dates for major ceremonial events.

First World War centenary a focus of discussions in Europe

On his recent visit to Europe the Prime Minister John Key discussed the First World War centenary with the British Prime Minister and President Hollande of France – in both cases stressing how the strong friendship we have with those countries, though forged in adversity, is a platform for a modern and future-focussed relationship.

The Prime Minister wore a WW100 lapel badge when laying a wreath at the Bomber Command memorial in London with British defence minister Andrew Murrison. Dr Murrison will visit New Zealand this month for discussions on the First World War centenary and defence matters.

Hospital ships

The first book in the First World War centennial history series, which is part of the WW100 programme, will be launched by Minister Finlayson this month. The white ships: New Zealand’s First World War hospital ships is by Gavin McLean, a historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage who has published widely on maritime history.

This is the first detailed history of New Zealand’s hospital ships, which by the war’s end had transported 47,000 people. In 1915 the government chartered the transtasman liners Maheno and Marama for use as our first hospital ships. For the next four years, starting with the Maheno off the beach at Gallipoli, the hospital ships travelled the globe, staffed by Kiwi seamen, doctors and nurses.

Back home, thousands of New Zealanders made items and raised money to support these 'mercy ships', and followed their movements closely as they transported the sick and wounded from many countries.

This book isn’t a dry read of appeal only to maritime or medical history buffs. Gavin weaves some very good yarns, and along the way addresses many of the big issues of the war such as New Zealand/British government relations, community fundraising, labour relations and attitudes to alcohol.

You might well have seen the Maheno, if you’ve ever driven a 4WD along the beach on Fraser Island in Queensland. While being towed to Japan in 1935 to be scrapped it broke free during a storm and was washed ashore on the east coast of the island. And there are good stories even here, of how some of the Japanese crew lived aboard for months while salvage plans were formulated before eventually being abandoned.

New arts and culture fund for the First World War centenary (WW100) programme

Good news for the creative sector component of WW100. Creative New Zealand has established a special fund to commission new, large-scale collaborations between New Zealand and international partners that will contribute to New Zealand’s aims for the First World War centenary programme.

Creative New Zealand has allocated $1.5 million to this fund to be disbursed in two rounds, in 2013 and 2014. Each round will be a two-stage process: a call for expressions of interest, and then an assessment of proposals that are invited following a review of the EOIs submitted.

The fund is focussed on creative works that relate to the themes of New Zealand’s WW100 programme.  To be successful works must be of high artistic merit, and with the potential to build collaborative relationships beyond the life of the particular project. The works must be large scale, both in the size of the production and the impact and audience reach.  They must be presented in New Zealand and at least one other country.  Particular focus countries are the UK, France, Belgium, Turkey and Australia.

Further information about the fund is on the Creative New Zealand website. Applications for the first round of funding close on 4 November 2013.

War stories

A few weeks ago I went to a small function hosted by the Alexander Turnbull Library to formally launch a joint project between the library, Archives New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. War stories will be a series of short (3–4 minute) films that will tell personal stories about a range of New Zealanders who were involved in some way in the First World War. The subjects of the stories will include both soldiers and people on the home front who were affected by the war, and each story will illustrate one particular aspect of the war and its impact on New Zealand.

The stories will draw on research into primary texts such as letters, diaries and newspaper accounts, and they will be illustrated with images drawn from the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library and Archives New Zealand. 

The stories will screen on TV3 in prime time during the centenary period, and then the completed stories will be posted on the contributing agencies' websites and will also be available on Youtube for you to embed. One example is already on the web.

Dates for ceremonial events

The dates for New Zealand’s commemorative ceremonies were announced by Minister Finlayson in mid-September.

New Zealand will also be involved in a range of other commemorations including those marking the outbreak of war, the capture of German Samoa and the departure of the Anzac convoys from Albany in Western Australia. The centenary of the soldiers’ return and declaration of peace in 1919 will also be marked.  It is expected that New Zealand will be officially represented at other nations’ centenary ceremonies and other centennial events.

Meet the team

Julie Moonlight plays a vital role in making the WW100 Programme Office run smoothly, as the Director’s executive assistant and as team administrator. She also organises meetings of the First World War Centenary Panel and its committees. Julie has been working in the programme office for several months now as an agency temp, and has recently come on board as a contracted staff member following a competitive recruitment process. 

Julie emigrated several years ago from the UK, where she had worked as EA to the CEO of an organisation in the UK that is equivalent to a Crown Research Institute, and later as manager of the correspondence and ministerials unit at the same organisation. She has also worked as a personal secretary to senior diplomats in the British embassies in Paris and Washington.

- Andrew Matheson, Director First World War Centenary Programme