Tag Archives: peace

Words from my country when I have no words.

Today is a tough day for me because it is 15 years since my mother was killed in a car accident.  This anniversary comes just over a week since a terrorist killed 50 innocent people at prayer and wounded so many more in my homeland.

My words are absent but this piece written by Simon Wilson has spoken deeply to me today.  I would encourage you to read it and absorb it and go more kindly and peacefully in the world.




Pukeahu. National War Memorial Park

On a Sunday afternoon in late August that hinted at the beginning of a warm spring ( that hasn’t really happened sadly) we journeyed into Wellington to visit Pukeahu ( Puke Ahu, meaning “sacred hill”)  National War Memorial Park.  This project was completed in time for commemorations of World War 1 and required a good deal of altered roading and central city reconfiguration.

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According to the background printed material “It is a place for all New Zealanders and visitors to reflect on and remember the contribution of the many New Zealanders who lost their lives and served in our external military conflicts over the years.  It is also a place to consider how the experience of war, military conflict and peacekeeping has shaped our ideals and sense of national identity.”

Nearby the old Mt Cook ( the old European name for this area) Police Barracks building has been restored and links to another violent event in New Zealand, dating back to 1881 when Government forces invaded Parihaka and Maori prisoners were held in a prison on Mt Cook.  There is a memorial to these prisoners adjacent to the old Dominion Museum building but which I missed seeing on this visit.

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The pedestrian only park area is large and open to the elements.  On the day we visited the elements were relatively calm and warm.  In Wellington’s windy climate it will be a very exposed and cold spot despite the plantings of native trees.

These tall, red stone columns dominate the northern section of the park area and represent links between Australia and New Zealand and the history of shared service.  Unfortunately a very disturbed young man was behaving very erratically towards us and other visitors so we moved away quickly.  We missed reading the various panels and viewing the artworks from the Balarinji Studio in Sydney and the those made by Jacob Manu Scott acknowledging tikanga Maori.

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This statue drew my attention.  She is Hinerangi, a kuia in bronze standing ready to karanga.  The area on which she stands was the garden that local Maori cultivated before the European settlers arrived.

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Overlooking the park area is the Carillon, which opened in 1932 and is 50 metres tall.  74 bells are regularly rung and I have happy memories of listening to the Carillon play as we visited the old Dominion Museum with our parents on a weekend or holiday.  The bells have names linking to WW1 and WW11 and four of the large bells bear the names: Grace, Hope, Remembrance and Peace.  A Lamp of Remembrance burns constantly on top of the tower.

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Near the doorway to the beautiful, sombre, Hall of Memories is this bronze sculpture of “The Man with the Donkey” which was inspired by the actions of NZ stretcher bearer Richard Henderson and his donkey “Murphy” at Gallipoli in 1915.  Paul Walshe’s sculpture pays tribute to all medical personnel, stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers who served in wartimes.  My paternal Grandfather was in the medical corps in Egypt in WW1 so this sculpture touches my family.

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We visited the Hall of Memories, built in 1964 and stood quietly with other visitors in this respectful and reflective space that was lit by afternoon sun through the beautiful west facing stained glass windows. Each person with their own memories, thoughts and feelings.
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The current New Zealand flag is draped over the tomb of the Unknown Warrior in the sanctuary here and reminds us poignantly that a flag requires dignity and solemnity in such circumstances.

Wishing upon a star

This rose is opening in my garden today. It looked like a special star early this morning.

I wish you all Peace, Love and Hope.

“May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart
To come alive to the eternal within you,
To all the invitations that quietly surround you…”
(John O’Donohue)

Armistice Day and Empowering women

It is Armistice Day here in New Zealand, a day to remember the end of the First World War.

Source: microsoft clipart

Source: microsoft clipart

Today it is just over a week since most women in New Zealand had cause to reflect deeply on their gender status and some of the prevailing perceptions in our country around that.

This piece in today’s Dominion Post newspaper by Jane Tolerton caught my eye for three reasons.

The first being that we need to remember today as that horrific and senseless war finally came to an end. If only peace had reigned since that date in 1918.

The second being that as women in New Zealand we know very little about women, other than the nurses, who went overseas to serve and Jane highlights several here. I hope you enjoy the short pieces she includes about these brave and courageous women.

But thirdly I was struck by how heartened and encouraged I was to read about these women and how empowered our growing girls would be if more of these real herstories were more widely known and celebrated. What powerful role models they present to us and how much they offer balance to gender perceptions.

I’ve copied Jane’s full article for you to read and respond to if you can help her in her search for more information.

OPINION: New Zealand women who went overseas to help in World War I war effort are a forgotten slice of our history, writes Jane Tolerton.
Today, on the 95th anniversary of the Armistice, we remember the 16,697 New Zealand soldiers who died in World War I, and about another 80,000 men who survived, most of them suffering the effects from wounds, gassing and shell shock.

But what are our images of the New Zealand women who were part of the war effort overseas?

We see nurses – of whom 550 served overseas – because they were officially employed.
But there were probably at least another 550, including doctors and volunteers (and about 60 government-employed VADs, as nurse aides were called).

Among the doctors was Wellington’s Dr Agnes Bennett – who, like the other female medics keen to go, was turned down by the authorities.
She went anyway, arriving in Alexandria to see wounded Anzacs being carried ashore. The medical officer she approached immediately asked her to escort wounded men to hospitals in Cairo. She must have wondered if her two brothers would be among them.
Dr Bennett worked in Cairo and later headed a Scottish Women’s Hospital unit – funded by British suffragettes – in Serbia. Among her staff was Australian author Miles Franklin (My Brilliant Career) who wrote, “We all had great confidence in her sensitivity and her ability. There was a delightful spirit of sisterhood and we were not called to flap our wings in salute or act subordinately . . .”

Dr Bennett was given the Serbs’ highest award for humanitarian service.

Dr Mary Blair of Wellington and Dr Jessie Scott of Canterbury also ran women’s hospital units in Serbia. Dr Scott was even taken prisoner.

Yet when I recently did an informal survey asking people how many New Zealand women doctors they thought had worked overseas during the war, the first 20 female respondents said, ‘None’.

Dr Bennett was Sydney born and came to Wellington when offered a GP practice. Susanna de Vries includes her in Heroic Australian Women in War, specifically stating that Dr Jessie Scott and Sister Agnes Kerr (who came from Gisborne and joined Ettie Rout’s New Zealand Volunteer Sisterhood) were Australian.

We should claim these women, and also note that Evelyn Conyers, matron in chief of the Australian Army Nursing Service, was born in Invercargill and went to Australia in her twenties.

Apart from the doctors and nurses, hundreds of New Zealand women sailed for Britain to take part in war service, or did so as part of their OE.

Lorna Monckton of Featherston went in 1915 and got a job as a “sculleryite”, laying tables and washing up in the New Zealand military hospital at Walton-on- Thames. She and her friends Enid and Vi (called Ding and Dong) Bell, daughters of Attorney General Sir Francis Dillon Bell, rose at 5.30am and worked till 8.30pm, with two hours off in the afternoon. Ms Monckton later did admin work in a military barracks and went to France with Queen Alexandra’s army auxiliary corps.
Why did such well-off women work so hard? Because they could not let the men down.

Before writing the famous Testament of Youth (1933) about her wartime VAD experience, Vera Brittain noticed there were no books about women like her.
“I began to ask myself: ‘Why should these young men have the war to themselves? Didn’t women have their war as well? . . . Does no one remember the women who began their war service with such high ideals or how grimly they carried on when that flaming faith had crumbled into the grey ashes of disillusion?”

When the guns stopped on the Western Front at 11am on the 11th of November 1918, thousands of New Zealand troops recorded the moment in their diaries and letters home, and described it in interviews for the World War One Oral History Archive.
The women so keen to look after them that they paid their own way to the war have gone largely unrecorded.

Jane Tolerton is seeking information for a book on New Zealand women who served overseas in World War I and asks those with diaries, letters, photographs or memoirs to contact her: jtolerton@gmail.com. She is the author of An Awfully Big Adventure: New Zealand World War One veterans tell their stories, drawn from the World War One Oral History archive interviews she and Nicholas Boyack did in the late 1980s.

Dappling, dabbling and dawdling

When the spring winds died later in the afternoon yesterday we headed to Aotea Lagoon for a walk and to enjoy the surroundings there.
I particularly enjoyed the dappling of the sun on water in the larger of the two duck ponds.
The ducks were dabbling.
This gull was content to allow me to dawdle very close to his/her perch.
And other gulls were dawdling in a group near the main Lagoon.
Sun, late afternoon light, water, nature….what could be better on a late Sunday afternoon in September.

A need for stillness and peace

April was always going to be a busy month. Easter happened with family gatherings and then 4 birthday parties were on the schedule. Lots of happy, busy occasions. Life, however, added in some very challenging times with worries, tests, appointments and follow-ups. I am very pleased to report that the future looks very positive and reassuring.

The drought has broken and the weather has been more autumnal at times. On Friday afternoon some time in nature called and I walked with my daughter near the Pauatahanui Inlet.

Two white faced herons were fishing in the shallows near us. Their deliberate and precise movements can be very slow but momentarily swift as they catch tiny sprats. I find them very restful to watch with their grace and elegance and their methodical stepping, attentive way of life. It is very easy to slow to their pace.



Even the normally hyperactive, bossy, noisy seagulls were content to paddle in the shallows.


The contented birdlife and the almost silent lap of the waves provided me with some much needed stillness and peace.
“Being still does not mean don’t move. It means move in peace.”
― E’yen A. Gardner

A quote for Tuesday

To look at any thing,
If you would know that thing,
You must look at it long:
To look at this green and say,
“I have seen spring in these
Woods,” will not do – you must
Be the thing you see:
You must be the dark snakes of
Stems and ferny plumes of leaves,
You must enter in
To the small silences between
The leaves,
You must take your time
And touch the very peace
They issue from.
– John Moffitt

Raindrops on buxus hedging

Cotinus Coggygria – Smoke Bush in spring