First World War Centenary Panel

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A First World War Centenary panel has been set up as an advisory group to help steer what will be an extensive programme to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The chair is the NZ Post chief executive Mr Brian Roche. Mr Roche was project manager for the successful bid to host last year’s Rugby World Cup and was director of was also chairman of RNZ 2011, the company responsible for delivering the highly successful tournament.

The First World War Centenary programme is being led by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, with funding and support from the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The project team will also work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Veterans Affairs New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Returned And Services Association, Te Puni Kokiri and the Department of Internal Affairs.

Other panel members are:
Hon Rick Barker, former Minister of Veterans’ Affairs;
Peter Biggs, managing director of Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne;
Bob Harvey, former mayor of Waitakere City;
Carol Hirschfeld, head of programming at Māori Television;
Sir Peter Jackson, Academy award winning director and producer;
Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Law Commissioner and former Minister of Defence;
Dame Anne Salmond, anthropologist, historian, writer and academic;
Dr Monty Soutar, historian and academic, and expert on Māori in wartime;
Matthew Te Pou, former Treaty settlement negotiator, farmer, coach of New Zealand Māori rugby team, and soldier, who served in Vietnam;
Cervantee Wild, winner of the National Bank RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition in 2011, who will bring a youth perspective to the panel.

There are also two ex officio members: RSA president Don McIver and incoming Australian High Commissioner Michael Potts.

Mr Roche, like most panel members and most New Zealanders, has personal links to the First World War. “My grandfather and uncle served on the Western Front. I recognise the project will be an opportunity for us as a country to reflect on the war as a contributor to our character, identity and place in the world.”

The Governor-General of New Zealand, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, has agreed to be patron of the panel and said he was looking forward to working alongside panel members to ensure the commemorations reach the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.

The Minsiter for Arts Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson said significant commemorations would take place over several years and aim to foster a better understanding among New Zealanders of our military heritage and the impact of the First World War on families, communities and those who served overseas.”

More than 100,000 New Zealand troops served overseas from 1914 to 1918 from a population of barely one million. Of those, about 18,000 died and 41,000 were wounded.
As part of the World War I commemorations, the Minstry for Cutlrue and Heritage has annoucned that the Auckland War Memorial Museum is leading an initiative to bring the First World War Centenary closer to New Zealand families.

The New Zealand War Graves Trust project is closely associated with the Museum and the Cenotaph database. The Cenotaph Database will be a starting point for families, schools, communities, researchers and people all over the world to explore content held about our soldiers. A page will be included for every New Zealand soldier who served in the First World War. The Cenotaph Database project is being run in conjunction with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Te Papa, Archives New Zealand, the National Library including the Alexander Turnbull Libraries and the New Zealand Film Archive. It will be launched in 2014.