ANZAC Day 2021

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

We promise the dead that we won’t forget them or their sacrifice.

This ritual had seemed hollow for so long but the shared sacrifice of this pandemic has reignited a need for us to bond. The very freedoms and civil liberties that are the fruit of armed engagement from our history were threatened like they’ve never been by this virus.

We collectively agreed to curtail those freedoms for the greater good in a heartbeat. We are the very example of what a progressive liberal democracy can do with kindness, science and the collective good will of a well informed citizenry..

For me, ANZAC Day is a solemn promise from this generation to the next that we will never waste their lives with the ease we threw previous generations into the mincers of war. Covid has rekindled a hint of what shared sacrifice and solidarity between fellow people can achieve.

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As the drumbeat for war slowly echoes across the Pacific, we need collective courage for Peace first and self defence second like never before.

The journey we walk now was one already trailblazed by our collective Whakapapa.

Kia Kaha New Zealand.

The Gunner’s Lament

A Maori gunner lay dying
In a paddyfield north of Saigon,
And he said to his pakeha cobber,
“I reckon I’ve had it, man!

‘And if I could fly like a bird
To my old granny’s whare
A truck and a winch would never drag
Me back to the Army.

‘A coat and a cap and a well-paid job
Looked better than shovelling metal,
And they told me that Te Rauparaha
Would have fought in the Vietnam battle.

‘On my last leave the town swung round
Like a bucket full of eels.
The girls liked the uniform
And I liked the girls.

‘Like a bullock to the abattoirs
In the name of liberty
They flew me with a hangover
Across the Tasman Sea,

‘And what I found in Vietnam
Was mud and blood and fire,
With the Yanks and the Reds taking turns
At murdering the poor.

‘And I saw the reason for it
In a Viet Cong’s blazing eyes –
We fought for the crops of kumara
And they are fighting for the rice.

‘So go tell my sweetheart
To get another boy
Who’ll cuddle her and marry her
And laugh when the bugles blow,

‘And tell my youngest brother
He can have my shotgun
To fire at the ducks on the big lagoon,
But not to aim it at a man,

‘And tell my granny to wear black
And carry a willow leaf,
Because the kid she kept from the cold
Has eaten a dead man’s loaf.

‘And go and tell Keith Holyoake
Sitting in Wellington,
However long he scrubs his hands
He’ll never get them clean.’

James K Baxter
1965

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7 COMMENTS

  1. At least Keith Holyoake, under huge pressure from the US, told Spiro Agnew in 1970 that NZ would not be sending conscripted forces to Vietnam. Given the times and politics Holyoakes hands weren’t totally dirty.

    • Keith Holyoake could not send conscripts to Vietnam because the people of New Zealand would not stand for it. It was not a principled stand on his part. He imprisoned conscientious objectors. He was a colonialist and a racist. That may have been the “times and politics”, but it is no excuse.

  2. Martyn most Kiwis I know are opposed to war and the processes that build towards war. Your article touches on the many who were condemned for wanting peace.

    ANZAC can mean many things, a preparation for the sentiments of fighting others. a reflection of the “glory” of conquest, a time of remembrance of grief, a time to strengthen public awareness of the shocking maiming, slaughter of millions that was avoidable but for the posturing of leaders who will be safely at home and not riding their horse into battle.
    War are not a random occurrence. They are generated.
    Words are powerful as are ideas.
    Peace is not automatic in spite of the repugnance of killing, which is all too often blinded from by the products of greed, power and ill feeling generated purposefully albeit usually a build up managed over time.
    Peace is not a mainstream promotion in NZ.
    A small group, The Peace Council of Aotearoa, set up with Barney Richards as leader operated for years attempting to co-ordinate peace activism in NZ.
    Barney was a worker who took aboard the understanding that peace needed a strong voice.
    “NZ Peace Council led by Barney Richards promoted peaceful co-existence and got investigated by the SIS, CIA ,Police and Army personnel for leading a voice for peace.”
    Barney represented NZ at a Horoshima anniversary and was held in the highest regard by Japanese of all ranks.
    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2020/08/06/75-plus-35-years-the-hiroshima-and-rainbow-warrior-nuclear-rewinds/

    Peace ambassadors get little press if any.

    Anzac day should incorporate a strong message towards peace but it hardly gets mention. Why is that. With all the words that flow each ANZAC day the message of peace just fails to be highlighted. So whats behind that.

    Does our government and community leaders not want peace or are they scared of those who are shown to be pro war.
    https://www.peacefoundation.org.nz/
    Information and ideas are important as is gaining a perspective of what is preventing peace as well as what is building a consensus for peace.
    I am not a peace activist and like many others spread my time over many aspects of understanding the human story.

    http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/

    History does repeat unless we change what we think and say.
    Lest we forget

    https://www.peacefoundation.org.nz/

  3. holyoak was a crook. He’ll be burning in Hell and he’ll still be a crook.
    He’s exactly what I mean when I write about traitorous farmers who sold their fellow farmers out to the crafty banker/money lenders who morphed to become the reform party and the united party which in turn became the national party. And it was from there that their tentacles reached out to establish the producer boards used to sequester what should have been farmer money to go off into the bottomless pocketsesssssss of the sundry urban criminal under world the likes of the mercantile firms and their mates in banking, finance and insurance.
    I’d go so far as to write that he’s one of the most crooked, most devious politicians we’ve ever had to endure. And you can tell that by all the titles the worthless old prick made sure he was given, to , no doubt, help cover his tracks.
    Wikipedia:
    “He left formal education at age 12 to help on the family farm. Before entering politics, he was active in various local farming associations. Holyoake was first elected to Parliament in 1932, representing the conservative Reform Party. He played an instrumental role in the formation of the National Party in 1936.”
    The reform Party.
    Wikipedia:
    “The Reform Party, formally the New Zealand Political Reform League, was New Zealand’s second major political party, having been founded as a conservative response to the original Liberal Party. It was in government between 1912 and 1928, and later formed a coalition with the United Party (a remnant of the Liberals), and then merged with United to form the modern National Party.”

    • “Holyoake was a crook”
      An understatement.
      Kirk demolished him is a debate on the American war on Vietnam, the debate was held in Victoria Universities premises. I attended that debate.
      Holyoake had no constructive argument for sending NZ troops to help attack another country which had done nothing to us. He did mention that we were asked to send troops by the USA so he did what he was asked.

      When LBJ visited Australia Holyoake had to cancel his appointment as he was summoned by LBJ.
      He dutifully attended the meeting and just over a week later announced several cancellations of food subsidy and school milk. We looked to socialist for the USA.
      Holyoake a gutless puppet. Mind you he may have been commanded to do more but reneged in which case the Kiwis need to know that.

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