Friday, 26 April 2013

Anzac Day: the day after

I love the fact that people are continuing to find new and creative ways of marking Anzac Day and the days leading up to it.

Here in Wellington, instead of just handing over poppies on Poppy Day, a host of volunteers spent hours planting them on Midland Park so people could pick their own poppy in return for a donation.

 Poppy Day 3

At the NZ Academy of Fine Arts on Queen's Wharf, Donna Sarten's installation Strange Fruit uses 3890 military dog tags suspended from the ceiling (each one stamped with the veteran's name and number) to show the number of New Zealanders who went to Vietnam.

I read about restaurants and movie theatres offering Anzac Day discounts to veterans, and Wellington even hosted a historic game of ARL football: St Kilda vs Sydney Swans (the first ever AFL clash played outside of Australia as part of the premiership season) which included the presentation of the Simpson-Henderson Trophy, honouring the stretcher-bearer heroes of Gallipoli.

In our family, we managed to attend Anzac Day services in three different countries. My sister and her husband got up at 3am to drive into central Sydney for the dawn service at 4.15am. I'm so proud of them (and also of my nephew who attended as well)- what a big effort to make!

One daughter is in New Caledonia on a school French trip, and the students were invited to join the Anzac Day service in Noumea - a very special occasion, as it was also being attended by 84 New Zealand WW2 veterans, there to mark the 70th anniversary of New Zealand's involvement in the Pacific war.

Meanwhile we went to our own local Anzac Day service, attended by adults, children and babies, Brownies, Guides and Scouts, St John's - and even a neighbourhood cat which wandered in and and seemed quite at home.

It has been a busy few weeks, with two book launches, several school visits and a number of interviews. But I am so grateful to everyone who has bought a copy of Anzac Day: the New Zealand story, for themselves or to give away. Thanks for helping put the book on the best seller list for the last 6 weeks (including one week at number one!) And thanks to everyone who has taken the trouble to tell me - in person or by email - that they've enjoyed it, or to share with me their own family stories of involvement in war.

Here are a few places you can go to see, hear or read more about the book:

(Thanks to Kathryn and the rest of the Nine to Noon team for making this live interview as stress-free as possible!)

"Brooke Dobson speaks with author Philippa Werry about her new book, 'Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story'."

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