ANZAC 2021

Warning: This article may offend some people. 

Coming off the back of Anzac Day (and perhaps I would have thought of this last year, if it hadn’t been for Covid) we’re now less than 20 years away from the 200 year anniversary of the founding of New Zealand as a nation, which I think will generally be accepted as coinciding with the Treaty signing and the year 2040. 
That will probably be looked upon by our younger generation in a similar way to which many of us saw the new millennium in 2000. Coincidentally Labour was in power in both 1940 and 2000, but who might seize upon the political opportunity in 2040 … I wouldn’t dare to hazard a guess as to whom that might be … although I do hope that the celebration isn’t restricted by a war as it was in 1940. 
Regardless of the current politics and what lies ahead the majority of our established development over the last 80 years has been delivered through the Labour Party. 
Before the 1930s there was a hotchpotch of development and a growing Labour movement. The irractic ups and downs, successes and failures were often delivered by individuals with an abundance of enthusiasm and optimism, rather than any party mechanism, and this would prompt the formation of the National Party in May 1936.
Although the name National had been used as far back as the 1920s the party we are familiar with today came from an amalgamation of conservative and liberals who oddly enough had started out as the two competing forces in the country’s first election. 
I think that’s a reasonable quick overview of ‘back then’ but I’m happy to hear alternative views if you think I’ve missed the mark here, or something particularly significant. 
I now fit into that older generation bracket, and the political view of the era I’ve lived through has seen National as the more stable force steadying the politics of a Labour Party that is often invaded by protest movements and political cliques determined on change – many changes have most certainly not come from what we would call the people movement foundation of Labour, but those changes are seldom reversed by successive National governments. 
I know there’s considerable angst out there at this time, so what is different today? 
There’s definitely uncertainty and while the right wing is generally more capable of dealing with these situations we are seeing a lack of cohesion in the right and my feeling is that we are seeing a separation not only of the conservatives and the liberals who formed National but also of the conservative and the more conservative sector of politics that have become somewhat concerned about our current administration and unusually have started to pay attention to what’s going on. 
It’s been the view of many people historically and more famously said by Ronald Regan, that socialism would come in the name of liberalism.
As we see Ardern’s unrequited desire for the success of socialism, are people now asking themselves, have we voted for what our forebears fought against 80 plus years ago? 
There was a rather unusual article in the Spinoff this Anzac accusing the older RSA of racism around the late 1940 -1950 era without recognition of the unveiling of second-world politics and especially that of Chairman Mao who was determined to rebuild his country with communism following the second world war. 
I thought that somewhat disingenuous of the writer trying to inflict his crutch on our history in that way. 
Looking further back to the birth of conservatism we appear to be recreating the early indecision of the conservative movement. Conservatives never really showed their strength until the world wars inflicted themselves upon us and brought about a desperate need for intelligent cooperation. 
The change between the conservative Canturbury I was born into and the New Zealand of today, is stark, to say the least and the most confused people (apart from  Kiwi men who are uncertain now about what it means to be a man in New Zealand or even what a Kiwi Bloke is these days) are some of our wayward journalists looking for clickbait.  
The rabble on the street we’re seeing now is every indication that socially we have a generation of ill-disciplined minds and likewise I expect better from our editors to discourage that sort of intergenerational hostility particularly toward our older generation and any further disunity in our society. 
We can’t say there is not definitely something wrong, to the extent that if there is a political solution it’s going to require once again, the intelligent cooperation of men rather than us pulling apart. 
So, what we do now (and in the greater scheme of things, 2 decades is minimal) will have a considerable impact on what we have to celebrate in 2040.


A Significant Force

The Significant Force That We Are

If I said New Zealand played a significant part in World War Two, you might wonder how that could even be possible?

And as a small expeditionary force from the other end of the world we are seldom written about in terms of our individual contribution to the Allied Campaign.

I generally try to write something for Anzac Day and this year I thought I’d try to explain this lack of perspective in New Zealand writing which contributes to us not appreciating ourselves as we should.

The harsh reality for us now though is that this type of research and writing is hard work and it doesn’t pay as well as the sentimental kind words, so easily found, and always useful on the day, that are now unfortunately fast running out of the significant meaning they once had.

One example of many, that New Zealanders are not often reminded of is our role in the Mediterranean.

Our troops would find themselves in a secondary theatre of engagement as the Second World War progressed the way it did.

Although the Italian Campaign may have at first seemed more like a rescue mission than the ensuing major battle that eventuated, this unexpectedly contributed to a significant weakening of German military cohesion.

More than 20 German divisions (Estimated at 15% of the ‘German Wehrmacht’ – their available defense forces at time) were diverted from France and the Eastern Front in order to defend Italy.

It was no small part in contributing to the campaign … to the grinding down … and to the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.

Our 2nd New Zealand Division upheld our country’s reputation with a valuable contribution both in the Mediterranean and to the combined war effort on this occasion.

There was a cost though. This particular action resulted in a total of 2176 New Zealanders left buried in Commonwealth war cemeteries or alternatively commemorated on memorials in Italy.

The resulting wounds to those troops that came home can never be fully appreciated for the effect on each individual’s life and for that reason alone today, I don’t make any reference to the total number of our troops who were wounded in this encounter.

Lest we forget – Apologies to Italy