Tele­vi­sion

Do sol­diers killed over­seas de­serve to rest at home, a doco asks.

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - by en­ter­tain­ment ed­i­tor FIONA RAE

Fiona Rae

In For­eign Fields, An­zac Day.

Author Witi Ihi­maera asks an im­por­tant ques­tion in a new doc­u­men­tary screen­ing on An­zac Day: should we bring our world-war dead home?

The jour­ney is both per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal for Ihi­maera, whose un­cle lies in a Tu­nisian ceme­tery. In In For­eign Fields (Māori TV, An­zac Day, 10.00am), he meets a num­ber of people who want to bring their rel­a­tives back from far­away lands.

As he sets out, Ihi­maera is not sure. His mother’s life­long wish was that her brother, Ran­giora Kee­lan, an in­fantry of­fi­cer who died in 1943, should rest in the fam­ily urupa; he has been ly­ing in Sfax Ceme­tery, south of Tu­nis, for 75 years. But, Ihi­maera asks, if ­Kee­lan’s re­mains are to be repa­tri­ated, “should it be one or should it be all?”

One woman in no doubt is Sher­rol Man­ton, whose brother Mor­rie died in Viet­nam. The fam­ily was told in 1967 it would cost $10,000 to bring his body home and he would be buried in Malaya. Mor­rie was even­tu­ally brought back to New Zealand by the Amer­i­cans, but a bit­ter taste re­mained.

Bring­ing sol­diers’ bod­ies home is now an ac­cepted prac­tice, but it wasn’t al­ways. The pro­gramme con­tains some fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion, founded in

1917 by Fabian Ware. Rud­yard Ki­pling was also heav­ily in­volved and was re­spon­si­ble for much of the word­ing on mon­u­ments and grave­stones, in­clud­ing the fa­mous in­scrip­tion for un­known sol­diers, Known Unto God.

When we think of our war dead, we usu­ally think of France or Gal­lipoli, but there are Ki­wis in ceme­ter­ies around the globe. Paul Thomas’s brother, Adrian, died in 1956 dur­ing the Malay con­flict and is buried at Cheras War Ceme­tery in Kuala Lumpur.

Thomas, a former sol­dier, is the founder of Fam­i­lies of the For­got­ten Fallen, which suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned the Gov­ern­ment to have the sol­diers buried in Malaysia brought home.

Māori Tele­vi­sion is once again de­vot­ing the day to An­zac-ap­pro­pri­ate pro­gram­ming, be­gin­ning with the Auck­land Dawn Ser­vice at 5.20am. Ju­lian Wil­cox and Ali­son Mau host.

Another new doc­u­men­tary, Kiwi Ser­vice Women of WWII (9.00am), fea­tures the sto­ries of five fe­male vet­er­ans: a former WAAF air­craft­woman, two Wrens, a land girl and a New Zealand Army nurse who went to the Mid­dle East.

There’s also another chance to see Sam Neill’s ex­cel­lent doc­u­men­tary Tides of Blood (3.55pm) and Taika Waititi’s short film Tama Tū (3.35pm).

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