Commemoration of New Zealand’s involvement in World War I has taken many forms. The Tauranga Libraries organised a series of art and literacy based competitions for young people on ANZAC themes. I was able to see part of the assessors’ reading and sorting process:-
“Today the long table of the Okahukura Room upstairs in the New Zealand section of the Tauranga City Library is covered with piles of papers, note books, written and drawn work. Occasional usb sticks in multi-coloured contemporary guise appear. These are the entries in the ANZAC commemoration competition.
It’s taken quite a while to get the entries out of all the boxes but now a team of Library staffers led by local author Susan Brocker and quietly working through the contributions all indicative of significant effort by the contributing young people. Susan is concentrating intensely as she reads. As she picks up another entry she mentions that she has judged a number of writing competitions.
Two representatives from local RSA branches arrive.There’s talk between them about tomorrow’s farewell visit by Iroquois helicopters. They look over some of the entries with an evident satisfaction. The RSA are providing the competition prizes.
What was involved. It was different for each of the three age groups. Years 5 -6 a postcard. Years 7 – 10 a diary. Years 11 – 13 an essay competition. While I observed I saw the quality of the work that had been sent in. There are some very talented children in the Tauranga area.
Long blonde hair falls across a red jumper as Susan honours both the work of the children and the subject matter . That these entries were more than just school work is evident. Many of the entries contain the child’s personal email address and phone number.
The work goes quietly on with reading, sorting, sifting and shortlists. Photographs are taken. One of the RSA representatives has to leave to travel to Auckland. He delights me saying his wife is on our ARTbop emailing list. I have to leave too and will go back to see the winning entries displayed.”
The corners of the display cabinets in the New Zealand room contain circles of red – handmade ANZAC poppies. They surround the winning entries of the competions. The level of understanding and creativity evident in the display confirms that this was a worthwhile project. The focus hasn’t been “the glory” but rather the horror and deprivation of war and its effects on the young people participating.
Rosemary Balu Rosemary is the founding and current Editor of ARTbop.