Learn­ing from the past

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By ROSE CAW­LEY

IT WAS meant to be an aca­demic re­search project look­ing at the por­trayal of the An­zac leg­end in New Zealand schools.

And to start off Carol Mutch was knee-deep in glory and pride for the mother coun­try.

But then the story turned into some­thing far more per­sonal.

The head of crit­i­cal stud­ies in ed­u­ca­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Auck­land’s Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion un­cov­ered a jour­ney into her fam­ily his­tory which led her right to Gal­lipoli.

She’ll at­tend the 100th An­zac Day com­mem­o­ra­tions in Turkey with her son.

At the fore­front of their minds will be a great un­cle they never knew they had un­til re­cently.

Sa­muel Gur­den was killed in ac­tion at Gal­lipoli in 1915.

‘‘I was do­ing this re­search project but I had no real con­nec­tion to Gal­lipoli or to the men,’’ the Three Kings res­i­dent says. ‘‘My son will be 23 when we go. ‘‘Great un­cle Sa­muel was a bit older than that but still a young man in his 20s when his life was ab­so­lutely cut short.’’

Mutch says learn­ing about Gur­den and his ef­forts in the war has added an emo­tional layer to her re­search.

She started on the project more than two years ago with Christchurch his­to­rian Sarah Christie.

The two re­searchers are us­ing the School Jour­nal to look at how ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als have shaped young peo­ple’s think­ing about the An­zacs.

‘‘It is the start of the good Kiwi bloke,’’ Mutch says.

‘‘They did seem to rep­re­sent what we pride our­selves in; giv­ing ev­ery­thing a go and never giv­ing up, be­ing pre­pared to break the con­ven­tions to achieve our goals, and prob­lem-solv­ing with num­ber eight wire.’’

She says over the years though the por­trayal of war has com­pletely changed.

‘‘Now we know how Gal­lipoli cam­paign was.

‘‘We know that there was al­most a mu­tual re­spect be­tween the An­zacs and the Turks even though at the end of the day they had to shoot each other.’’

Mutch says in her own ex­pe­ri­ence

fu­tile the teach­ing about war is like walk­ing a tightrope.

‘‘I don’t think that we ad­dress the hor­ror of war.

‘‘What we teach is very much about this cul­ture of re­mem­brance and pride.’’

Re­cent school projects like pair­ing stu­dents up with vet­er­ans give chil­dren a fuller un­der­stand­ing of the re­al­i­ties of con­flict, she says.

Us­ing the jour­nal to ex­am­ine this change wasn’t as easy as first thought.

Copies printed be­fore 1980 were not avail­able on­line, and it was dif­fi­cult to trace phys­i­cal copies of the jour­nal dur­ing World War I.

A na­tion­wide search en­sued, only for the most com­plete set of the jour­nals to be found on the same cam­pus.

Mutch says the jour­nals were too del­i­cate to sim­ply pho­to­copy and were sent to the uni­ver­sity’s city cam­pus where a state-of-the-art scan­ning ma­chine was used to care­fully and slowly scan ev­ery edi­tion.

So far Mutch’s as­sis­tants have scanned the jour­nals and sum­marised key ar­ti­cles up to the 1940s, while a team in Christchurch have worked back­wards from the 1980s. They are cre­at­ing a data­base which they hope the public will be able to use as a study aid in the fu­ture.

re­ally

Photo: ROSE CAW­LEY

Three Kings res­i­dent Carol Mutch is headed to Gal­lipoli to com­mem­o­rate the cen­te­nary of the An­zac land­ings.

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