WW100 New Zealand - 22 April 2013 - Virginia Gow

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Presentation to the South Island regional museums & galleries meeting on 22 April 2013, by Virginia Gow of the WW100 Programme Office (http://WW100.govt.nz).

Presentation to the South Island regional museums & galleries meeting on 22 April 2013, by Virginia Gow of the WW100 Programme Office (http://WW100.govt.nz).

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  • Good morning, and thank you so much for the invitation to speak to you today. I come bearing apologies and kind regards from Andrew Matheson, the Director of the First World war Centenary Programme Office, who is really disappointed he is unable to attend. At the last minute, he was called into strategy session with the minister – and when you work in the public service, minister’s take top priority. My name is Virginia Gow – and I’m responsible for the online strategy around the First World War Centenary programme, which is a really exciting role. My background is in the cultural heritage sector more broadly – I’ve held roles at the National Library and Auckland War Memorial Museum, and I’m currently working in the WW100 Programme Office which is based in the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. This morning I’m going to talk about the big picture for New Zealand’s response to the First World War Centenary, which is being called WW100 in New Zealand. I’m going to start with the question of why we think it’s important to mark the Centenary and the government’s thinking around the commemorations; and then move through some tools to help you with your planning, including the results of survey we commissioned which gives a great sense of the opportunities for our sector.
  • So, as many of you know, 2014 to 2018 marks 100 years since the First World War. Just over 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas in this conflict, many of them young men like this one who had never left home before. I always find this photograph so affecting. He just looks so young. And if you think about the population of New Zealand at that time, which was just over a million people, that’s 10 % being taken overseas, which is huge. Of those who went away, more than 18,000 died and over 40,000 were wounded . And it’s not only those 58,000 who were casualties. Everyone who returned, and those at home, were casualties in their own ways.
  • New Zealand forces were involved in the First World War from the initial capture of Samoa in August 1914, just a few weeks after war was declared – these are New Zealand troops landing in Apia.
  • And they were involved right through to the end of the fighting on Armistice Day in 1918. This is from the celebrations in Levin.
  • New Zealanders fought at Gallipoli, shown here two weeks after the landing; and it’s a timely week for me to be showing this slide.
  • And they fought on the Western Front, where these two soldiers are shown searching for lice. In fact, according to the survey I’m going to talk about towards the end of this presentation, only 17% of New Zealanders know that more New Zealanders were killed in the Western Front than Gallipoli. Gallipoli clearly holds a special place in our nation’s history; but it’s not the only story of the First World War – and the commemorations are about more than Anzac Day 2015. They last right through to the Armistice in 2018.
  • New Zealanders also fought in the Middle East. This photograph is taken in southern Palestine in around 1917, and it always reminds me that in addition to the men who served overseas, there were also over 3800 horses who went with these soldiers to the other side of the world. Only four or five of them returned.
  • Palestine was actually where my great grandfather was stationed as a medical officer with the Wellington regiment in 1917. So this is my personal connection to the First World War Centenary, and it’s the personal connections that we know are going to be a real hook for New Zealanders. My great grandfather’s not shown in this photo, but among other things he spent a lot of his time loading wounded men onto cacolets, or camel stretchers, like these. He actually won a Military Cross in Palestine. During the war or possibly the 1918 flu epidemic, my great grandmother – Alice (known as Maysie) was a Medical Officer of Health in Wellington. It’s all about the stories – Andrew says.
  • Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about my Great Grandfather’s story, and we don’t have any photos of him in uniform – largely on account of this event in the late 1920s; a divorce which was scandalously reported in the NZ Truth newspaper. After that, according to my father, John Graham Gow sort of dropped off the family tree. But I was interested to discover, on preparing for this talk, that his father was in fact the Inspector of Schools in South Canterbury for 33 years – so it feels sort of fitting to be talking about him. I’m going to come back to the significance of these kinds of personal connections to the First World War shortly. But first I’d like to talk a little bit about why the Government is putting time and effort into the Centenary. Why put time and effort into commemorating an event that happened 100 years ago – “far away” in both history and geography?
  • As one contemporary columnist put it, responding to the government’s announcement of plans to mark the centenary: ‘If you're starting to worry about the Rugby World Cup-like hysteria slowly building around the upcoming centenary of the Gallipoli defeat, be very afraid.” But some of you may have read Neil Atkinson’s response to this opinion piece. Neil is the chief historian at Manatu Taonga, the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. He wrote that, “ Despite its massive global scale, it’s important to remember that this war was not just something that happened somewhere else, in faraway Turkey or Europe. Its impact was as close to home as history gets.
  • was as close to home as history gets. Nearly half of all New Zealand's young men went to fight in this war - and more than half of them were killed or wounded  This missing or damaged generation of men had a profound impact on our economy and society over the succeeding decades. The events of 1914-18 touched nearly every family, every community, every school, every workplace and every club or group, as seen in cenotaphs and memorials around the country today.
  • Neill went on to stress that the official approach to the commemorations “ is to tell our First World War stories, but we won’t fabricate or sanitise the significance and impact of what happened. With a generation of men overseas, women took on new roles that began to change our workforce and society. At a time of intense pressure to conform, the courage of those who opposed the war – including conscientious objectors – must also be acknowledged. In part what Neill is saying is that the centenary presents an opportunity to uncover new truths about the First World War or at least to look at the old truths from a new vantage point. The First World War was also a defining step in New Zealand’s move from adolescence to adulthood. We reinforced and formed bonds with Australia that have been enduring — military, political and people-to-people.
  • And we know that New Zealanders are increasingly interested in war commemorations, as evidenced by the number of people attending Anzac Day commemorations today. These commemorations are also important for other countries, especially our allies Australia, UK, France and Belgium. Gallipoli 2015 will be very important. New Zealand is expected to do likewise.
  • So in response to these demands, the government has created a programme called WW100, and set up a structure to support it. I’m not going to go into that structure in depth, but if you’re interested there’s more about it on our website. A very important part of this structure is the WW100 Programme Office, who I’m representing today. We’re funded and jointly staffed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, the New Zealand Defence Force, and the Department of Internal Affairs, as well as Ministry for Culture & Heritage staff. One of the nice things about being in the Programme Office is that we’re geared to work collaboratively across government; and with organisations and communities throughout New Zealand - and overseas.
  • We have several responsibilities. First is to provide overall coordination of New Zealand’s involvement in centenary. There are lots of players in this space – from different government departments to Te Papa and Auckland War Memorial Museum, to the RSA and community organisations and local government, and of course museums and galleries like the ones you work for. The risks of a fragmented approach are obvious, such as: blurring the ‘big picture’; missed opportunities; duplication of effort and resources; confused roles and responsibilities. Commemorations are important, but money is tight. We can’t afford to act inefficiently.
  • We’re also charged with developing and managing a common identity for the centenary, which is the WW100 mark you can see in the bottom right of this screen. That’s not the programme office’s logo, but a shared identity for all participants in the First World War Centenary. You can register to download it through our website. The only restriction is on using it for commercial gain; which we like you to discuss with us first. But we really encourage you to use this to identify touch-points to First World War Centenary activities by New Zealanders. We’re actually starting to see it out on the streets already – though it’s very early for this, and we’re encouraging people not to jump the gun too early – wait for the Centenary to start in August next year! Mostly it’s on websites at the moment, and web projects.
  • A big part of our work is to promote the centenary, including at this stage in the planning process, to groups such as yours. And we’re here to share information on what’s happening around the centenary.
  • One of the ways we’re doing that, in addition to using traditional media and attending meetings like these, is through the website for the First World War Centenary in New Zealand, WW100.govt.nz. This is the part of the programme that I’m responsible for. Our aim for this website, which is more like a portal really, is to be a bit like a ‘cover sheet’ for all of the amazing activities and projects and events happening around New Zealand; and also to point people to online destinations that they can learn about New Zealand’s First World War history. It’s set up as a community hub; and I was chuffed to see three project listings come through from the North Otago Museum last week – one of which you can see profiled on our homepage in this screenshot. Thanks Chloe. I’m hoping to see even more as a result of this session – the website is there for you to share information about what you’re working on, so that others know and we don’t duplicate effort. We also want a really broad tapestry of offerings for New Zealanders to connect to the Centenary. There’ll be a community events diary up towards the end of this year as well; but for now just add them into the Projects register. For those of you that way inclined, we’re also on Facebook and Twitter.
  • There are actually a few listings from this region up, which is fantastic. And you’re welcome to add fuller descriptions of these activities and contact details if you want to – the website is geared for this.
  • In addition to being a projects hub and supporting planning, one of the features on the website is a section intended to help people learn about the First World War. We’re hoping to make this Timeline of key events embeddable by other websites. It’s really handy if, like me, you’re not a historian and you want to know what some of the key moments are that you might base a commemorative activity around.
  • Another feature that we’ve just launched is a collaborative online project called Life 100 Years Ago. Unfortunately I don’t have time to go into it in depth, but basically it’s a collaborative social media - social history - project where we’re encouraging New Zealanders to Tweet quotes from 100-year-old diaries and letters on the same day they were written, to provide context for the First World War and ultimately a sense of individual and collective human experiences.
  • There are lots of different ways people can participate in this project, and I’m happy to chat more about it during one of the breaks. But something you might like to think about is how might you support members of your audience to participate in projects like this – and more importantly to preserve and protect heritage items in their possession; whether that’s by digitisation or donations and so on. We suspect that the Centenary will see people get really interested in history and memorabilia and what’s in their personal collections and all of these things – and it’s an important opportunity for our sector, and one we need to be prepared for.
  • Also listed on the website are some of the major or ‘official’ projects that the government is funding as part of the Centenary, and our office is also charged with ensuring they happen.
  • You’ve probably heard about the National War Memorial Park, undergrounding of Buckle Street in Wellington and building a park over the top, in front of the current National War Memorial. Upgrading and strengthening that National War Memorial. Building a new education/interpretive centre for the park. Currently memorial is an important place of remembrance and reflection, but there is little to tell the story of what is being remembered, especially to the increasing number of school visitors.
  • So it’s all looking very much under construction at the moment.
  • Another major project is Heritage trails. We want to better tell the story of New Zealand’s, and New Zealanders’, involvement in key battles. Gallipoli of course. Also Western Front. As I mentioned earlier, we know that the importance of Western Front battles is under-estimated by most New Zealanders. This will probably be a mix of physical interpretation and digital resources.
  • Another major project by the government and national institutions, which is one of the main activities of MCH, will be to add to the corpus of historical resources about this watershed event of the 20th century. And particularly broadening the story and interpreting the events of 1914–1918 to look more at the wider effects of the war on all New Zealanders, our identity and they way we are today. A lot of information will be delivered online on NZhistory.net.nz as well under a new URL: firstworldwar.govt.nz
  • Finally, the government has also partially funded redevelopment of the Cenotaph database. The idea is to move this from a simple database into a national hub for finding out about people involved in the First World War, and not just soldiers. You’ll be able to add links to your own information about service personnel from there; or add it in directly – and it will be a major resource for discovering and researching connections to the First World War. Keep an eye on this to see how you can connect in with it as it develops.
  • So that’s major projects. Lastly, international linkages are an important part of the centenary. Foreign policy objectives: strengthening linkages and increasing understanding of how this small nation has contributed to global security over a long time.
  • So by way of a summary. By 2019, we hope that the First World War Centenary – including commemorative activities that you develop here in the South Island, will have: Created suitable opportunities to recognise the sacrifice of New Zealanders during the First World War, including permanent legacy projects of remembrance. Increased understanding of the role of our military heritage in shaping New Zealand identity. Increased understanding of the impact of the war on New Zealanders, and those who served with them, including those groups at home and abroad whose stories are lesser known. Developed a greater appreciation of New Zealand’s long history of contributing to global peace and security. Strengthened New Zealand’s ongoing relationships with Australia and all other participants of the First World War.
  • So one of the questions at this point is ‘well how will we measure that’. How much do people already know or understand? I want to take a few moments to share the results of a benchmark survey, which I think will be interesting to you; and may help inform your planning. It’s available for download from our website under the ‘Get Involved’ section. We commissioned a Colmar Brunton survey of New Zealanders to tap into levels of understanding and perceptions around the First World War and the Centenary. In total, 4,017 New Zealanders aged 15 years and over completed an online survey. Summary of first impressions, top-of-mind comments. You can see that trend there that Gallipoli is top of mind; so that’s an important hook in for people.
  • In short, the outlook is good. New Zealanders are interested in history. I’m kind of interested to know how this stacks up against how many people are interested in rugby… nevertheless… The outlook is also good for museums; depending how you look at it. After TV, the Internet and books; 54% of New Zealanders like to learn about history at a museum.
  • And a lot of them are younger, which is really encouraging. There’s also a strong interest out there in local or community history, and in genealogy. This is our moment to shine!
  • In terms of understanding about the First World War. 40% knew of a relative who had served — almost all a close relative. A lot had talked about their family’s involvement. And of those who had a relative who served, 80% would like to find out more.
  • This might make you think, well do we actually have to do anything then?
  • There are some significant opportunities. People have basic knowledge, but they don’t have deep understanding. Some misunderstandings or blank spots are common The fact that there is a level of interest there is also a great opportunity. And we know that top of mind associations such as Gallipoli, and personal connections like the one I described earlier about my great grandfather and the camels – are really important for engaging people; even if we just use that as a hook to take them more deeply into other aspects of the First World War; which is what I find is happening with me as a result of working on the First World War Centenary programme. I’ve learned – and become curious about – things I never would have imagined being interested in.
  • There’s a good level of interest for you to tap into. In terms of demographics, the survey revealed that older people are more interested and aware – as we’d expect - but don’t overlook the young. 84% of 15-19 year olds believe commemorating centenary is important.
  • Finally, I thought this might be interesting to show what kinds of exhibits respondents are likely to visit. You can see there that photos are a real winner; as are stories of real people. I’m hoping this bodes well for our Life 100 Years Ago project which I showed you earlier, which is essentially a combination of the top 4 bars there – or at least will be as we get some of the soldier diaries being Tweeted. At the moment it’s very focused on the homefront. Anyway, the survey results are a really interesting read – so I encourage you to check out our website for more detail.
  • What I really want to emphasise today is that we in the Programme Office have no intention, or indeed mandate to organise every single thing that happens during the centenary. I can see you all imagining there’s an army of us up in Wellington. I can assure you that’s not the case. We are directly responsible for the significant projects that I talked about; but mostly our role is to facilitate activity elsewhere, and particularly close to the communities where it has the most meaning and relevance. Which is one of the reasons I’m so excited to be talking with you today. In addition to outreach activities, one of the key ways we’re facilitating community activity is through working with the Grants Board to provide funding opportunities for projects that meet the government’s aims for the Centenary – including digitisation projects.
  • You can find details of this on our website under Get Involved as well. Within that $17 million, just over $7 million will go to community events and smaller capital works, and a $10 million fund for one or more large-scale projects of national significance. This is the only government assistance specifically targeted at First World War Centenary (WW100) commemorations. I’m fairly sure there will be a third funding round as well, after the one that closes on 29 May 2013.
  • So I guess a final call to action if you will. We know that Gallipoli is important; and we know that personal connections are important. And we know that there are different ways that people will want to engage with the Centenary. So I guess my question to you is how are you going to support members of your local community to discover and share their First World War stories? How will you broaden and deepen their understanding? How will you contribute to the aims of the Centenary? I recommend you get together and talk about it, look at the WW100 website for inspiration, share ideas. Please do take the time to use the website so people know what you’re working on and can get inspiration from you. It also helps us to do our job of promoting your wonderful activities and initiatives. Use the symbol; and if you’re stuck and want to connect with others planning Centenary activities we’ve got a private discussion list you can join. You just need to email me about that and I can add you to the list. Thank you so much for your time today.
  • Here are some of the ways you can get in touch – if you email me there, I can add you to the discussion list. I’m happy to take questions.

Transcript

  • 1. First World War CentenaryProgramme Office• Coordinate New Zealand’s response to thecentenary
  • 2. First World War CentenaryProgramme Office• Coordinate New Zealand’s response to thecentenary• Develop and manage a common identity for thecentenary
  • 3. First World War CentenaryProgramme Office• Coordinate New Zealand’s response to thecentenary• Develop and manage a common identity for thecentenary• Promote centenary
  • 4. First World War CentenaryProgramme Office• Coordinate New Zealand’s response to thecentenary• Develop and manage a common identity for thecentenary• Promote centenary• Share information on commemorative activities
  • 5. First World War CentenaryProgramme Office• Coordinate New Zealand’s response to thecentenary• Develop and manage a common identity for thecentenary• Promote centenary• Share information on commemorative activities• Manage major projects
  • 6. First World War CentenaryProgramme Office• Coordinate New Zealand’s response to thecentenary• Develop and manage a common identity for thecentenary• Promote centenary• Share information on commemorative activities• Manage major projects• Foster relationships with internationalcounterparts
  • 7. By 2019, we hope that we’ve…• Created suitable opportunities to recognise the sacrifice ofNew Zealanders during the First World War.• Increased understanding of the role of our military heritagein shaping New Zealand identity.• Increased understanding of the impact of the war on NewZealanders.• Developed a greater appreciation of New Zealand’s longhistory of contributing to global peace and security.• Strengthened New Zealand’s ongoing relationships withAustralia and all other participants of the First World War.
  • 8. History• 88% interested in history, including 58% stronglyinterested
  • 9. History• 88% interested in history, including 58% stronglyinterested• Museums fifth-most common source of information(54%)
  • 10. History• 88% interested in history, including 58% stronglyinterested• Museums fourth-most common source ofinformation (54%)• Encouraging interest in museums (51%) amongyouth (15–19 yr old)
  • 11. History• 88% interested in history, including 58% stronglyinterested• Museums fourth-most common source ofinformation (54%)• Encouraging interest in museums (51%) amongyouth (15–19 yr old)• Strong interest in local or communityhistory, and in genealogy
  • 12. First World War• 40% knew of a relative who had served — almost alla close relative
  • 13. First World War• 40% knew of a relative who had served — almost alla close relative• 57% of those had talked about their family’sinvolvement
  • 14. First World War• 40% knew of a relative who had served — almost alla close relative• 57% of those had talked about their family’sinvolvement• 80% of those with a relative who served would liketo find out more
  • 15. First World War• 59% think that the war was at least somewhatrelevant to their life today
  • 16. First World War• 59% think that the war was at least somewhatrelevant to their life today• Most recognise role of war in shaping New Zealandand the transtasman relationship
  • 17. First World War• 59% think that the war was at least somewhatrelevant to their life today• Most recognise role of war in shaping New Zealandand the transtasman relationship• 97% had taken part in an Anzac Day-related activity(poppy, TV documentary)
  • 18. First World War• 59% think that the war was at least somewhatrelevant to their life today• Most recognise role of war in shaping New Zealandand transtasman relationship• 97% had taken part in an Anzac Day-related activity(poppy, TV documentary)• Quite knowledgeable about the war:dates, key facts and figures(78% basic or more)
  • 19. Opportunities• Knowledge– understanding of many is fairly basic– common misunderstandings, e.g. about importance ofWestern Front, New Zealand’s involvement in Samoa
  • 20. Opportunities• Knowledge– understanding of many is fairly basic– common misunderstandings, e.g. about importance ofWestern Front, New Zealand’s involvement in Samoa• Interest– good interest in history– especially local and family history
  • 21. Opportunities• Knowledge– understanding of many is fairly basic– common misunderstandings, e.g. about importance ofWestern Front, New Zealand’s involvement in Samoa• Interest– good interest in history– especially local and family history• Broad base for building awareness,interest and engagement withcentenary
  • 22. INTEREST IN TYPES OF EXHIBITSBase: Respondents likely to visit exhibitions at local museums or travelling exhibitions (2,365)Source: Q9b908170574846PhotosSurvival storiesDiariesOnline, interactive exhibitsMedalsArt exhibits%
  • 23. Funding• More than $17 million to help communitiescommemorate the centenary• Second funding round (with extendedeligibility criteria) closes on 29 May 2013• See: WW100.govt.nz/funding-sources-for-ww100-commemorations
  • 24. How are you going to support members of yourlocal community to discover, share, andpreserve their First World War stories?“It’s all about the stories”
  • 25. Discussion list: info@WW100.govt.nzWebsite: WW100.govt.nzTwitter: Twitter.com/WW100nzFacebook: Facebook.com/WW100nz
  • 26. Young World War One soldier (unidentified), Christchurch, by Adam Maclay.(Ref: 1/2-164066-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30118653)New Zealand troops land in Samoa, Malcolm Ross, August 1914.(Ref: PA1-q-107-29-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://beta.natlib.govt.nz/records/22789316)Elsdon Clark as clown, Armistice Day Parade, Levin, 1918.(Ref: Horowhenua Historical Society Inc. http://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/site/images/show/7621-armistice-day-parade)“The search” (for lice), Western Front(Ref: Courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force Library)Corporal Williams and his horse, southern Palestine, ca 1917.(Ref: 1/2-066835-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23114083)Wounded soldiers being loaded onto camel cacolets, Palestine, ca 1916-1917.(Ref: H00716. Australian War Memorial.)FYI, it’s really hard to find photos online of women in New Zealand working during WW1.(This is Edith from Downton Abbey, working as a farm hand because she can drive a tractor)Cartoon from the Observer, Volume XXXII, Issue 27, 16 March 1912, Page 16.(Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand, http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz)