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.
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.