Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Anzac Day 2016, Tinui

This morning I went to Tinui for the Anzac Day service, 100 years after the first service was held there in 1916.

Tinui is now a small farming community 30 minutes east of Masterton, with fewer than 25 permanent residents. In 1914 the community had 2000 people, and 36 of them – 35 men and one woman – would be killed in World War I.

The Anzac forces landed in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. In 1916, this date was officially named as Anzac Day. To commemorate the seven Tinui men who died on Gallipoli, on 25 April 1916 the Reverend Basil Ashcroft held a morning service in the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd.

The Wairarapa Archive office holds a service sheet showing that this took place at 7.30 am, making it the earliest known recorded Anzac Day commemoration in the world. A second service was held that afternoon in the Tinui hall, which had room for the much larger numbers who came to it. This morning it was held outside the hall built much later.

That first Anzac Day fell on the Tuesday after Easter, so it was already a school holiday. Anzac Day became a New Zealand public holiday in 1920, several years before Australia, and the dawn ceremony was officially introduced nationwide only in 1939.

After the early service, Rev. Ashford led a group of 10 men, 7 women and 24 children, including the local Scout troop, up Tinui Taipo, more than 1097 metres above sea level, to set up a large wooden memorial cross.  Also known as Mount Maunsell, it was part of what was then Tinui Station, owned by the Maunsell family. Their son had served at Gallipoli, and they were strongly involved in the memorial project. It’s said that the barren landscape setting for the cross resembled Chunuk Bair. Today's memorial service sheet told us that once the cross was in place, those who had made the climb wrote their names on a piece of paper which was buried in a bottle at the foot of the cross.

This is the only known cross dedicated to Anzac losses during World War One. Because it was put up on the morning of that first Anzac Day in 1916, it has a good claim to be the first such memorial in the world. Heritage New Zealand says that the unveiling of the cross so soon after Gallipoli was:
"...the result of the impact that the Anzac campaign had on the small community at Tinui. The memorial was conceived as both a tangible demonstration of the Tinui area’s respect for those involved in the campaign, and more specifically, to [commemorate] those who died.”
In 1965 a locally made aluminium cross was set up to replace the wooden one, which had rotted. The original cross was put under the stage at the Tinui hall, but it later disappeared. In 2011, the Tinui Cross received a Heritage New Zealand Category 1 registration.

Since Tinui’s historical significance became better known, the numbers attending its Anzac Day service have grown. On the 100th anniversary of that first commemoration, 3000 people were there, including 94 descendants of the Ashcroft family. Basil Ashcroft's great-grandson, Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Mikkelsen, gave the main address at the service. Twelve-year-old Linda Morgan, whose relative is named on the Tinui war memorial as killed in World War 2, was the bugler who played the Last Post.

                                                                        (Douglas Maclachlan)

And here's the hymn by Shirley Murray that we sang this year, to the tune of Abide with Me:
Honour the dead, our country’s fighting brave,
honour our children left in foreign grave,
where poppies blow and sorrow seeds her flowers,
honour the crosses marked forever ours. 
Weep for the places ravaged with our blood,
weep for the young bones buried in the mud,
weep for the powers of violence and greed,
weep for the deals done in the name of need. 
Honour the brave whose conscience was their call,
answered no bugle, went against the wall,
suffered in prisons of contempt and shame,
branded as cowards, in our country’s name. 
Weep for the waste of all that might have been,
weep for the cost that war has made obscene,
weep for the homes that ache with human pain,
weep that we ever sanction war again. 
Honour the dream for which our nation bled,
held now in trust to justify the dead,
honour their vision on this solemn day:
peace known in freedom, peace the only way.
                                                                                         (Douglas Maclachlan)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Changing lives; A History of New Zealand Women

 I've recently finished reading A History of New Zealand Women, by Barbara Brookes (Bridget Williams Books). Rumour has it that the first print-run has already sold out.
          I'm reviewing it for the Women's Studies Newsletter, so I'll post that review later.  For now, I want to write about what Barbara says in her introduction about her own life; but first I want to say a little about some aspects of mine.
I was born in 1945 and brought up in Auckland. I was lucky - I was in the zone for Auckland Girls' Grammar, and wanted to go there because it offered full art as a subject. My father had previously been a commercial artist, and I wanted to be one too - I dreamed of becoming an illustrator for the English women's magazines my mother read.
           The only problem was that I didn't know the difference between commercial art and art. Until I went to Auckland Girls', where the walls were covered with good reproductions, I'd never been to an art gallery or even seen a really good picture. So art was the only subject where I did badly, and at the end of the third form I was persuaded to drop it and pick up Latin instead. I went on to make the most of the academic stream I was in, and ended up dux.
            Both my parents had had to leave school at twelve, but they were happy to take the school's advice and let me go on to university. With both a national scholarship and a Lissie Rathbone (for English and history), my fees were paid, I had my own pocket money, and I could live at home.
            Though I never thought about marriage and motherhood, I had only the vaguest idea about my future, involving copying my beloved French teacher and somehow getting a scholarship overseas, preferably to England or Paris. In due course I graduated with first class honours in English in 1968 (the only member of my all-female year to do so), and was given a junior lectureship.
             But by then, as well as being female, I had married (at 19) and had a baby (at 20). No one on the "proper" staff took the slightest interest in me, or ever talked to me about my academic future. I think they simply assumed I didn't have one. In 1971, as Barbara points out, only 1 percent of women had degrees or other higher qualifications.
             I was eager to have another child, and took what I thought was a year off to do that, then found I couldn't come back - all the junior lectureships had gone to the lauded clutch of first-class men who graduated the year after me. So of course I did the only thing I could think of, and went off to teachers' college, as my teachers at school had all along wanted me to do. But it seemed so circular and pointless - bright girls became teachers and taught other bright girls, who became teachers in their turn...  I finally received my PhD in 2006, on my 61st birthday.

Barbara Brookes is ten years younger than me. She too was initially destined for teaching, but her trajectory as an adult was completely different from mine. At Otago University she found supportive mentors and could embark on feminist research. A recent article in the University of Otago magazine explains how, with Professor Erik Olssen’s encouragement, she won a scholarship to Bryn Mawr in Philadelphia, where she completed an MA.
        To research her ground-breaking doctorate on abortion in England during the inter-war period, in 1980 she went to London, where she found a very active feminist history group. Receiving her PhD on her 27th birthday in 1982, she took up a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Otago. In 1983 she was offered a full-time job in the history department. As she explains in her introduction to A History of New Zealand Women, she is in fact a living example of the dramatic changes that her book outlines:
Born in 1955, I benefited from educational opportunities that eventually [when she was 17] took me to university on a teaching studentship. Long-term factors - such as state initiatives in education and the erosion of the breadwinner wage - underpinned a raft of new ideas generated by feminism in the 1970s that encouraged me to be independent and academically ambitious. Effective contraception, in the form of the contraceptive pill, meant that I believed I could plan to have children at a time that suited me. That time came after I had completed my PhD and secured a academic job. I married at the age of thirty in 1986 and had my first child [of three] at thirty-three. (pp.1-2)
And the rest, as they say, is history - only in this case, an invaluable trove of papers, articles and books centering on women-focused history, culminating in this satisfyingly massive new book.
          Her career has, however, been far from typical. She was an early example of the contemporary women she describes who, having 'opted for traditionally male professions are currently transforming them' (p. 481). Yet it's vitally important not to lose sight of the fact that the majority of women continue to be found in jobs remarkably similar to the ones Barbara describes them doing back in the 1980s: sales, teaching, nursing, lowly office work, plus the lowest paid and least secure of all - cleaning and caregiving. And, of course, all that unpaid cleaning and caring work at home as well, perhaps now more invisible and subservient to what policy-makers persist in calling "work" than it has ever been.
          So when Barbara ends by saying, 'We now rely on them [younger women] to imagine a future where the challenges of both respect for diversity and a commitment to equality can be met' (p.483), she has to be read as referring not only to a once unimaginably diverse array of cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and family forms, but also to the kind of equality among women themselves that is now so glaringly lacking.