Woodhouse discovers family connection to Gallipoli

Michael Woodhouse, Janine, Lady Mateparae and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at the Lone Pine Commemoration yesterday. Photo supplied.
Michael Woodhouse, Janine, Lady Mateparae and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae at the Lone Pine Commemoration yesterday. Photo supplied.
Minister of Veterans' Affairs Michael Woodhouse has discovered an unknown family link to the Gallipoli campaign while on the peninsula for Anzac Day commemorations.

The Dunedin list MP came across the name F. Woodhouse on the Hill 60 Memorial, one of four on the peninsula that commemorate New Zealanders killed in the campaign.

Mr Woodhouse checked with Archives New Zealand online and found Trooper Frank Woodhouse, of the Otago Mounted Rifles, was his great-uncle.

''He was from Alexandra ...'' Mr Woodhouse said from Gallipoli last night.

Because he had believed he had no family that took part in the campaign, ''you could have knocked me over with a feather'' following the discovery, he said.

''It was a profound experience and I do feel a little more connected now.

''There was even a photo of him. He looked not too dissimilar to me; he had some of the Woodhouse features.''

Mr Woodhouse said being part of the dawn service at Anzac Cove was moving.

''I thought I understood the Anzac story but it is only in coming here and seeing the scale of impact and loss you can understand how it really did forge two nations.''

Yesterday's dawn service was ''pretty amazing'', Mr Woodhouse said.

The about 4400 people at the service were in a ''sombre mood''. It was ''one of reflection'', he said.

The service was ''quintessentially Australian and New Zealand''.

''It was quite emotional, but I think the other emotion is one of solidarity. Not only with the Australians, but the Turkish,'' he said.

''The conflict and the sheer scale of loss gives way to a really strong sense of fraternity between the countries.

''It's almost unique. It's not often that one's enemy becomes such a firm friend.''

He described the Turks as ''tremendous hosts'' and said his meetings with members of the Turkish Government and Australia's Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson regarding next year's commemorations were ''very fruitful''.

He had discussed the possibility of further commemorative events on August 6 and 8 for those who had missed out in the ticket ballot to attend next year's Anzac Day events.

''We have made really good progress,'' he said.

- ODT/APNZ

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