Creeping commercialisation of Anzac Day decried

Anzac Day needs to be defended from myth-making but commercial interests also present a threat, a Dunedin author says.

Ron Palenski, who has written extensively on New Zealand military history, said the creeping commercialisation of Anzac Day concerned him.

While Australia witnessed one of the most glaring examples when a Woolworths ``fresh in our memories'' Anzac-themed marketing campaign prompted an outcry in 2015, New Zealand was not immune.

Here, big companies such as Fonterra, the ANZ Bank and Countdown, had all associated themselves with the Anzac brand, albeit in more subtle ways, and their Anzac initiatives had been endorsed by the Returned and Services' Association (RSA).

Examples from professional sport included rugby league's Anzac test and Super Rugby's Anzac services, staged on the field at the start of each match in the round closest to Anzac Day.

It was those practices that he questioned as the mix of commemoration and professional sport was ``trite and disrespectful'', Mr Palenski said.

Two of his great-uncles were killed at Gallipoli, while a third died of his wounds in 1919, and Anzac Day had always been ``part of being in our family'', he said.

The association with sport should be limited to an on-field service if a game fell on Anzac Day, rather than part of professional sport's pre-game entertainment package, he said.

``You can't become a baker and produce an Anzac loaf of bread ... and neither should you do anything else commercially in the name of Anzac Day.''

There was a risk of more commercialisation as the gap between New Zealand's wars, and those who remembered them, grew wider, he said.

``But, equally possibly, there could be more of a reaction against that sort of thing.

``There could be more people like me saying `leave it alone - respect it for what it is'.''


Add a Comment