Planning under way for Anzac centenary

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage will report to Cabinet ministers by the end of May on how the nation should mark the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli in 2015.

The ministry was investigating a range of options but no decisions have been made yet as far as a central government programme, a spokeswoman said.

The Australian government has tabled proposals to spend millions of dollars on travelling exhibitions, a special service at Gallipoli, and re-staging the convoy which took New Zealand and Australian soldiers to the conflict.

It is reported to also be planning to spend millions on an "Anzac Centre of peace, conflict and war" in Canberra.

Asked what comparable effort the New Zealand Government was planning, the ministry spokeswoman said it had a history team working on many projects to mark the centenary.

These included a website on World War 1 and New Zealand, and four books.

The books are:

• An illustrated history of New Zealand's war experience at home and away, to be published by Penguin in 2013;

• a book on heritage sites related to the war, to be published in 2013/14;

• a history of New Zealanders on the Western Front, due about 2014; and

• a social history for 1918-1930, exploring the legacy of the war.

The spokeswoman said there was a steering group of interested agencies which contributed to work on the options for a commemoration but she could not discuss the advice before it went to ministers.

In Australia, the government set up a commission, led by two former prime ministers, which this week called for an Anzac Centre to "focus on the deeper sources and dynamics of conflict itself" rather than the history of military operations.

Another recommendation was for a re-enactment in Western Australian waters of the departure of the ships carrying Australian and New Zealand troops bound for Egypt on the morning of November 1, 2014. Organisers of the convoy are reported to have already selected a New Zealand ship to participate.

The Returned and Services Association (RSA) has the only non-government seat on the New Zealand steering committee, said the chairman of the RSA's commemorations committee, Pat Duggan.

"Between now and 2020, there are a lot of significant anniversaries," he said.

"The Australians will probably overshadow us, because they are putting a lot more money into it than we are," he said. "But we've got our plans too -- especially for Chunuk Bair on April 25, 2015 ...we're going to be there in force."

There would also be a big commemoration in 2017 of the battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, in which the New Zealand Division suffered 1700 casualties in Belgium fighting the German army.




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