Great War had last­ing ef­fect on our coun­try

Louise Upston is the MP for Taupo/Tu­rangi elec­torate. As An­zac Day ap­proaches she talks to South Waikato News about the great sac­ri­fices.

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO -

THE Great War (1914-1918) was one of the most sig­nif­i­cant events of the 20th Cen­tury and had a pro­found and last­ing im­pact on New Zealand so­ci­ety. Our troops trav­elled the fur­thest and our con­tri­bu­tion came at a very high cost. Ten per cent of our pop­u­la­tion of one mil­lion peo­ple served over­seas – more than 18,000 died and over 40,000 were wounded. Nearly ev­ery New Zealand fam­ily was touched by tragedy and I know there will be many of you who will have heard sto­ries from fam­ily mem­bers who were alive dur­ing World War One.

One hun­dred years on from the trau­matic events at Gal­lipoli, An­zac Day 2015 marks the be­gin­ning of four years of com­mem­o­ra­tions as we re­mem­ber the huge losses we sus­tained on Europe’s West­ern Front and in Africa.

At the heart of our WW100 pro­gramme are all the com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try that are de­vel­op­ing their own lo­cal com­mem­o­ra­tions which you can see on WW100.govt.nz – events in the South Waikato will be up­dated in the com­ing weeks.

As Min­is­ter for Women, I will be recog­nis­ing the women who served in World War One. There were 640 women who vol­un­teered to serve as nurses with 17 be­ing killed.

Those women who stayed at home made im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the war ef­fort through their fundrais­ing for pa­tri­otic or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Women made clothes and socks to sup­ply New Zealand sol­diers with items for their kit bags. Other groups sup­plied hos­pi­tals with cloth­ing for re­turned sol­diers.

The war also pro­vided new op­por­tu­ni­ties for women. The large num­ber of young fit men go­ing off to war meant that women had to step in and fill the gap to keep lo­cal busi­nesses and farms run­ning.

Dur­ing the war many women moved from do­mes­tic roles into jobs that would nor­mally be done by men.

Over the next four years there will be many op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­mem­ber those mo­men­tous events, which are not in any way glo­ri­fy­ing war and con­flict, but will al­low us to re­flect on the dif­fi­cul­ties our sol­diers faced with courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

We wouldn’t be the coun­try we are to­day with­out their sac­ri­fice.

Lest we for­get.

Louise Upston

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