A Year in Review: Online Cenotaph 2020
2020 has been an incredibly busy year for the Online Cenotaph team. We have worked with many researchers, contributors, historians, volunteers and families, throughout the year. Sharing stories of New Zealand's veterans, coming together to commemorate, and supporting one another throughout our unprecidented lockdowns. We are extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed to Online Cenotaph this year.
January began with Collection Technician Dan Millar moving to Wellington, affectionately known as AM South. His work in Wellington is to identify personnel records and other material held in Archives at the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDFA) at Trentham and at Archives New Zealand (Archives NZ), Wellington. Dan has identified a significant number of records which he has then scanned to be future records on Online Cenotaph.
Dan's work in Wellington was the foundation of our transcription projects, which began in March during the first nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
FEMALE SERVICE PERSONNEL
Throughout the year, Online Cenotaph has been working to create records for New Zealand’s female service personnel, highlighting the contribution and sacrifice women made throughout the Second World War. We hope to share more of their individual stories throughout 2021.
Approximately 4,750 women joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs) which was formed to enable the Royal New Zealand Air Force to release more men overseas. Online Cenotaph has been able to create over 4,000 records for those who served with the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Additionally, we have been able to create the records of over 640 women who enlisted with the Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service.
KIA MAHI TAHI TATOU
On the 22nd March 2020 Auckland War Memorial Museum closed for only the second time in the Museum’s history. During the following two months Dan’s work at the Archives then became the base for a Kia mahi tahi tātou, our COVID-19 Transcription project. Online Cenotaph was able to support our fellow colleagues across the Museum during the first and second COVID-19 Lockdowns. Our Visitor Hosts and Volunteers transcribed1,265 pages, which equates to 1,424,174 characters and completed a total of 41 projects. We are incredibly thankful to the Museum’s Visitor Hosts and Volunteers who have supported us throughout this project, it is an amazing accomplishment and a really powerful way to honour New Zealand’s service people.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Returned and Services Association (RSA) and Auckland Council, made the difficult decision to cancel all public Anzac Day commemorations and postpone the RSA's Poppy Day appeal. This is the first time Anzac Day services have been cancelled since 1916. Online Cenotaph was able to work with many of New Zealand Historians who kindly shared their work. These works were collated and added to our Anzac Day 2020 feature on Online Cenotaph. Here you will find stories reflecting on how New Zealanders have stayed connected during War and COVID-19, Māori Mobilisation during Wartime, Peacetime and COVID-19 written by Dr. Aroha Harris.
On Anzac Day this year, we shared the story of Our Coastwatchers, a collaborative article by Geraldine Warren and Madison Pine. Coastwatchers were our eyes and ears throughout the Moana Oceania, Te Moana-nui-a-kiwa, and many of Coastwatching stations were staffed by locals, but their service has often been forgotten.
TE KOHIKOHINGA A-TUIHONO ME TE MAUMAHARATANGA TUIHONO
As part of Tāmaki Paenga Hira’s commitment to making our digital collections widely available and accessible, bilingual interfaces for Collections Online and Online Cenotaph were created. You can learn more about the project here, and find the bilingual buttons for Online Cenotaph and Collections Online below.
This work was made possible thanks to funding provided by internetnz.
This year we have been privileged to share the stories of two New Zealand veterans, Samuel Frank Noon and Sani Lakatani. Thank you to Eileen Noon and the Lakatani family for sharing your stories and memories with us.
Samuel Frank Noon
Prior to the Lockdown, Madison was able to speak to Eileen Noon, the widow of Samuel Frank Noon, who shared her memories of her beloved husband Sam, a veteran of Malaya and Thailand conflicts he later became very involved with the veteran community and played a significant role in organising the Auckland War Memorial Anzac Day ceremony. We felt incredibly privileged to share part of Sam’s story.
Ruth Lee Heather, the niece of Sani Lakatani approached us after Anzac Day, asking if we would be interested in sharing the story of her uncle the Honourable Sani Lakatani. In June 2020, Madison was able to chat with Sani, a veteran of Malaya and Vietnam, and former Premier of Niue, we shared Sani’s experiences and his colourful career during this year’s Niuean Language Week.
PRISONERS OF WAR
Barbara Alp, daughter of James Herbert Golding Alp shared her memories of her father who was a Prisoner of War, during the Second World War. Of the 100,000 New Zealanders who served during the Second World War, just under 10,000 were taken Prisoner of War, a staggering 94% of the POWs were captured by the end of 1942.
We have so far been able to identify over 8,000 prisoners of war from the First and Second World War, which you can find here.
As part of the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s inaugural Summer Studentship programme, Online Cenotaph has welcomed our Summer Scholar Angus Drumm to the team. Angus will be working on collating a complete list of Prisoner of War camps where New Zealand Service Personnel were held, focusing on details, such as location and size of population and name changes over time. Angus is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Laws and Arts with double majors in History and Politics.
CONTEMPORARY REFLECTIONS GRANT
In May 2020, Online Cenotaph received a grant of $5,000 from Copyright Licensing New Zealand, as part of a special round of contestable funds to support short term projects to support those in New Zealand’s writing and publishing sector who had been affected by COVID-19.
We had five recipients of the Contemporary Reflections Grant, who each responded to our brief of how our fight against Covid-19 has been “like a war.” Each of the recipients shared a unique and compelling reflections, which you can find below.
NEW ZEALAND INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS
Online Cenotaph is proud to be able to share the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photograph Veteran Portrait Project.
The Veteran Portrait Project began on Anzac Day 2014 and culminated with thousands of portraits of New Zealand’s veterans. These photographs were part of a voluntary project undertaken by NZIPP members between 2014-2017, with the aim of photographing all known, surviving WWII veterans. Over 100 photographers photographed over 2000 veterans in studios, rest homes and RSA’s throughout the length of New Zealand.
You can find these beautiful taonga of New Zealand's veterans here.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira is responsible for the perpetual commemoration of the service personnel of the Auckland Province, Online Cenotaph plays a large role in enabling the Museum’s visitors to further understand the individual impact war has had on our Nation. Collection Manager, Victoria Passau, contemplates commemoration in a digital world.
With many of our commemorative events cancelled this year, Online Cenotaph played a vital role in trying to provide a space where New Zealanders could come together to commemorate New Zealand’s service personnel.
To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War, Collection Technicians Daniel Millar and Madison Pine, highlighted some of the stories of New Zealanders who fought for democracy in the first conflict of the Cold War.
The 15th August 2020, marked 75 years since the end of the Second World War in the Pacific. In commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day, Online Cenotaph highlighted the roles and service of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Army and Navy in the Pacific.
Dr. Peter Gow, read an excerpt from his daughter Virginia Gow’s ‘Life on the Curve: Stories of essential workers in times of war’ on Armistice Day this year.
Online Cenotaph has been fortunate to work with so many researchers and contributors this year.
Douglas “Scotty” Wingfield shared his research on identifying members of the ground crew who served with the 41 Squadron. You can find all those 41 Squadron members so far identified here.
William Kainana Cuthers wrote a piece on his grandfather who was a Coastwatcher during the Second World War, and the importance of Kūki ‘Āirani, Kāre e ngaropōina ia mātou a rātou e tuātau `uātu.
Michael Smythe, a New Zealand Design Historian wrote an article on Gifford Jackson, the godfather of New Zealand Industrial Design, for the 5th anniversary of his passing.
Christopher Pugsley has been a regular contributor of stories to Online Cenotaph this year, providing numerous articles on New Zealanders contribution at Gallipoli. You can find his articles here.
Associate Curator Gail Romano, has shared stories of the museum’s history collection and the people associated with them in two articles for Online Cenotaph. The Zero: Two Men and a Plane and the McNeil Brothers on Gallipoli.
We love working with researchers, family members, organisations and veterans to share the stories of New Zealand’s service personnel. This year we have had:
Nearly 2,000 enquiries answered
6,013 data items added
7,962 images added
2054 notes added
121,883 poppies laid
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Online Cenotaph this year, whether it be laying a poppy, leaving a note, researching your family members, or asking us questions, this year we have had some incredible accomplishments and we could not have done it without your support.
Ngā mihi nui, Online Cenotaph team.