Continuing the Anzac Day theme

Tēnā Tātou te iwi. In the last couple of weeks some colleagues and I have worked with teachers and students from Hawera High School and Scot's College on a couple of projects relating to New Zealanders at war up at the National War Memorial here in Wellington. It has been great to see a number of schools visit this iconic New Zealand site and incorporate it into their teaching and learning. Scot's are working on a project exploring the impact of the First World War on New Zealand with specific reference to Gallipoli. This is a fairly typical topic in exploring the emergence of a distinct New Zealand identity and with Anzac Day only a matter of weeks away I thought it was a good opportunity to highlight material available in the Classroom with regards to Anzac Day and its commemorations.

Anzac Day and Gallipoli seem inseparable in the national psyche, yet far more New Zealanders – over 12,000 – died on the Western Front. Many also argue the Western Front was of greater significance in the wider context of the war. The question could therefore be asked to what extent Gallipoli has overshadowed our contributions to campaigns such as Passchendaele? On 4 October 1917, during what was officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, 320 New Zealanders lost their lives in a successful attack on Gravenstafel Spur. Eight days later an attempt to capture Bellevue Spur ended in catastrophe. In terms of lives lost on a single day 12 October 1917 remains the greatest disaster in New Zealand's history – whether natural disaster or in this case 'man-made'. By the end of that day's actions more than 2700 New Zealanders were dead, wounded or missing. Passchendaele became a byword for the horror of the Great War yet the names associated with this campaign don't seem to come as readily to many Kiwis. It seems that Gallipoli will be forever etched in the collective memory of the nation. Whether you have something elaborate planned for Anzac Day with your classes or not, this might be a useful one-off discussion to help sharpen our thinking on this day.

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