Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Point of Order: Anzac Day is about remembrance......

.....but did our Veterans Minister forget about Second World War and the saving of democracy?

Dalius Čekuolis, a career diplomat who served as Lithuania’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2006 to 2012, championed democracy in a speech to the UN General Assembly on May 6 2010 to mark the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War,

Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri, on the other hand, didn’t mention “democracy” in a press statement she issued to encourage all New Zealanders to mark Anzac Day this year.

We can only conjecture on whether this apparent oversight is related to Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty earlier this month acknowledging that a co-governance component in its Three Waters reforms helps the Government give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

And to rub it in:

“There are provisions in our laws around the Treaty that aren’t democratic.”

A highly contentious interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi similarly was invoked by the Government when it over-rode the principle that all citizens in a democracy should have equal rights to give one group of people in Canterbury an electoral privilege. This small group was thus enabled to appoint representatives to two permanent seats on the Canterbury Regional Council without the bother of campaigning for electoral support.

The UN General Assembly’s commemoration of the end of the Second World War in 2010 was opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who began by reciting the names and places that still resonated, despite the passing of several decades:

“Stalingrad and Kursk; Auschwitz and Dachau; D-Day and the final battle for Berlin”.

The costs of the war were beyond calculation and beyond comprehension, he said, recalling that some 40 million civilians had died and 20 million soldiers — nearly half of those in the Soviet Union alone.

Dalius Čekuolis described the end of the war as a victory over conquest and fascism, but noted that while one part of Europe had been celebrating victory, his part of the world had been suffering under the brutal grip of Soviet communism. Only in 1990 had it gained its independence “and begun its march towards democracy”.

He said the commemoration of the end of the Second World War must include an honest and thorough debate on the causes and lasting impacts of that conflict.

The actions of both the Nazi and Stalinist totalitarian regimes must be discussed.

“It is our common duty to keep alive the memory of the tragic cost of what was needed to restore freedom and democracy,” he said.

The memory of the victims of the war should inspire all to work harder to secure freedom and dignity and to prevent such tragedies from ever occurring again.

In her Anzac Day statement, Whaitiri mentioned Gallipoli and World One, then skipped to East Timor and Afghanistan.

Her statement – the only one which commemorates Anzac Day – can be found on the Government’s official website.

Minister for Veterans Meka Whaitiri is encouraging all New Zealanders to find a way to mark Anzac Day this year.

“Anzac Day commemorates all those who have served, and those who continue to do so,” Meka Whaitiri said.

“Today is a day of reflection and no matter where Kiwis may be in the world, I encourage them to pause and acknowledge that service.

“Whether it’s attending a Dawn Service or a parade here in the towns, cities and rural communities of New Zealand, or standing beside fellow Kiwis at Anzac events overseas, we can all take a few minutes to acknowledge lives forever altered by world events.”

Whaitiri said there was a personal cost in every global conflict. She urged New Zealanders to unify around those who paid the ultimate price and to acknowledge those who returned home changed by the mental and physical scars of conflict.

Then she said:

“While the veterans of historic conflicts in Gallipoli and the First World War may no longer be with us, personnel from more recent deployments such as East Timor and Afghanistan continue to serve our nation with pride and we can acknowledge them too.”

Hmm. No mention of the Second World War or its veterans.

Whaitiri went on to note the professionalism and dedication of the New Zealand Defence Force in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle.

“Once again our people sprang into action to evacuate, supply and support affected communities. That ongoing service from contemporary personnel is a living reminder of the commitment embodied in Anzac Day.

“It’s vitally important we continue to learn from our past, which is why I find so much inspiration from those who went before, and their stories. At Gallipoli itself, the words of Chaplain Henare Te Wainohu, “Be brave! Be Bold!” now have a physical space at the Maori pah at the site.

“May we remember all those who have served, and those who continue to do so, today and every Anzac Day.

“Ka maumahara tonu tātou ki a rātou. We will remember them,” Meka Whaitiri said.

Around 18,000 New Zealanders died in or because of the First World War, and about 41,000 men were listed as wounded.

More than 2700 died at Gallipoli and almost 12,500 on the Western Front.

The names of those who died are recorded on approximately 500 civic war memorials throughout New Zealand.

A total of about 105,000 men and women from New Zealand served overseas during the Second World War. Of those nearly 7000 died on active Army service and a total of over 11,000 in all services. Nearly 16,000 were wounded.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

War impacts so many people and ANZAC day is, in my opinion, a remarkable way in which to remember. I have recently enjoyed a book of vignettes by the erudite Bruce Moon, entitled “Bluff in Wartime by one who was there”. A personal story of a young family and the ways in which they were touched by war. His father had been a soldier in World War 1 and was part of the Le Quesnoy relief. This little book is a poignant reminder of life.