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A Year in Review: Online Cenotaph 2021

Online Cenotaph, Victoria Passau and Madison Pine

This year has been one for the books, a year of record updates, connecting with veterans and marking the beginning of the 25th Anniversary of Online Cenotaph. We have been busy helping with enquiries, and working on many transcription projects. Every year we like to look back on the year that was and share some highlights with our researchers, contributors, historians, volunteers, and the families who help make Online Cenotaph what it is. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this year. 

A RECORD YEAR FOR UPDATES

In August, we hit a milestone 250,000 individual Online Cenotaph records which reflects 25 years of hard work. We increased our records by more than 11,700 in 2021. This growth was in major part due to former Collection Technician Dan Millar’s work with Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara O Te Kawanatanga in researching and photographing archival material. Our Volunteers and Visitor Host worked with us during the 2020-2021 lockdowns to make this information available. Prior to August, they had transcribed 3,648 pages out of 27,500. By the end of Auckland’s fifth lockdown, in mid-November, they had transcribed 15,469 pages. 

This has meant we have been able to create:

  • 4,900 World War Two Navy records 

  • 3,700 Korean War Army records 

  • 800 Korean War Navy records

HMNZS Taupo in Korea, during the winter of 1951 to 1952. Image kindly provided by National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, from the collection of \u003ca href =\" https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/188030\" target=\"_blank\" \u003eRichard Hale \u003c/a\u003e

HMNZS Taupo in Korea, during the winter of 1951 to 1952. Image kindly provided by National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, from the collection of Richard Hale

© National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Cdre Richard Hale, 2010.27.1106

While we have updated: 

  • 4,900 Prisoner of War records

  • 2,726 N Force records for those who served in Norfolk Island during World War Two

  • 3,000 B Force records for those who served in Fiji in 1941, for garrison duty. “When they landed in Fiji on the 1st November 1940, they made history. It was the first time a defence force from a self-governing dominion had been sent to garrison a Crown Colony of the Empire.”

  • 1,000 T Force records. New Zealanders helped to train the Tongan Defence Force and to provided essential supplies and war equipment. 

Through this project we were able to increase our Naval Records from 2,776 to 7,862. This was only possible after our team of Visitor Hosts and Volunteers transcribed four lists which totalled more than 40,000 entries for 22,000 individuals dating from 1922-1965. 

In addition, to the significant work undertaken by our Visitor Hosts and Volunteers, we have also worked with researchers and veterans who have provided lists and helped us create records. We updated and created records for more than 2,000 servicemen who served during the Malayan Emergency and in Malaya from 1960-1964, from the New Zealand 1 Battalion, and 2 Battalion. These lists were compiled and researched by many of the Malayan Veterans themselves. 

Crew visiting HMNZS Black Prince March 1956, image contributed to the Online Cenotaph record of \u003ca href =\"https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/201993\" target=\"_blank\" \u003eNeil Ronald Carey\u003c/a\u003e, by James Neri, December 2021. Neil in is in the front row fourth from the left. Family Photo Collection \u0026 Merv Tyree, Neil\u0027s Navy mate.

Crew visiting HMNZS Black Prince March 1956, image contributed to the Online Cenotaph record of Neil Ronald Carey, by James Neri, December 2021. Neil in is in the front row fourth from the left. Family Photo Collection & Merv Tyree, Neil's Navy mate.

Copyright undetermined - untraced rights holder.

After seeing the incredible portraits of Operation Grapple veterans photographed by Denise Baynham on display at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in December 2020, we reached out to researcher and author Gerry Wright who provided us with a list of 500 records of Navy personnel who served during Operation Grapple. Many of these veterans recalled the radiation being so strong they could see the bones in their hands, as clearly as an x-ray. It was an honour to be able to recognise and include the service of these veterans on Online Cenotaph. 

VETERANS AND VETERAN STORIES 

Throughout the year, Madison Pine and Victoria Passau have had the opportunity to speak to many veterans of post-1945 conflicts. In March we spoke to Murray Watene who had a nearly 25-year career with the New Zealand Defence Force, serving in Malaya, Vietnam and Antarctica. He is devoted to his community, serving on the Auckland RSA Executive Committee, working with Vanguard Military School, and with Veterans’ Affairs. We posted our interview with Murray in commemoration of Malayan Veterans’ Day in August. 

3 members of 10 Pl from ROTORUA reading the ROTORUA POST. they were sent by the editor Ray Smith who was their commander in the Hauraki Regt under C.M.T. Image taken during Malayan Emergency 1959-1960. © Peter Gallacher.

3 members of 10 Pl from ROTORUA reading the ROTORUA POST. they were sent by the editor Ray Smith who was their commander in the Hauraki Regt under C.M.T. Image taken during Malayan Emergency 1959-1960. © Peter Gallacher.

We also spoke to Peter Gallacher, Documentarian of D Company, who served in Malaya between 1959 and 1960. One of the first things he purchased in Malaya was a Asahi Pentax S3 camera, which fitted perfectly in his ammunition pouch. While overseas, he took many photographs depicting the life of soldiers serving in Malaya. He has very kindly shared over 500 of these photographs with Online Cenotaph. 

To solve a longtime mystery  of Online Cenotaph,  we talked to Pepe Nicholas, niece of Peter Utanga. Rarotongan born Private Tuaine Utanga, of the 30th Infantry Battalion, took a guitar with him on active service. On its case are over 200 signatures of fellow New Zealand soldiers who served with the 30 Battalion and the 24 Battalion between 1941 and 1945. These photographs appear on the Online Cenotaph records of over 150 servicemen Peter met during the Second World War. While we had photographs of the case and guitar, neither of these were held in the Museum’s collection. 

Auckland Museum\u0027s Tumu Here Iwi Relationships Manager, Robert (Bobby) Newson and Kōtuitui Rangahau Repatriation Coordinator and Researcher Coralie O’Hara.

Auckland Museum's Tumu Here Iwi Relationships Manager, Robert (Bobby) Newson and Kōtuitui Rangahau Repatriation Coordinator and Researcher Coralie O’Hara.

© Auckland War Memorial Museum, photographed by Richard Ng.

In November, we posted an interview with Bobby Newson, one of the most beloved staff  at Tāmaki Paenga Hira. This interview is incredibly close to our hearts, and we are immensely grateful to Bobby for chatting to us about his time in Vietnam and his many other careers. We shared this article for Armistice Day 2021, a time to acknowledge and commemorate all those who served during the First World War, and in subsequent wars and peacekeeping operations in which New Zealanders have been involved.   

COMMEMORATIONS

While many of our commemorative events happened online this year, we were able to gather in person for Anzac Day

This year's theme was Service and Sacrifice, with a particular focus on saluting servicewomen past and present. New Zealand women have served, in some capacity, in all conflicts since the New Zealand Wars. 2021 saw two significant anniversaries for New Zealand veterans: the 80th anniversary of the formation, on 16 January 1941, of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and the 75th anniversary of Jayforce landing in Japan. 

Group of Women\u0027s Auxiliary Air Force recruits receiving their new uniforms at RNZAF Station, Levin. Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum \u003ca href \"https://fotoweb.airforcemuseum.co.nz//fotoweb/archives/5003-Search-the-Collection/Collection/PR1902.jpg.info\" \u003ePR1902\u003c/a\u003e

Group of Women's Auxiliary Air Force recruits receiving their new uniforms at RNZAF Station, Levin. Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum PR1902

No known copyright restrictions.

We focussed on sharing the stories of many New Zealand women who saw service during the Second World War:

We also shared more about the work of Sarah Johnstone, a researcher, writer and broadcaster with a passion for listening to the sounds of our past, who is currently researching the surviving sound recordings of the Mobile Units, and working with Online Cenotaph to identify the voices  in these recordings. She wrote about this work for Anzac Day in  World War Voices - identifying voices in wartime recordings.

In the lead up to Anzac Day, the Museum corrected and amendmended a number of names on the Rolls of Honour that are chiselled on the walls of the Halls of Memories. The names are of personnel who served in the Auckland province; human error meant that a few mistakes were inevitable, and these have now been rectified. “This process of additions and corrections is part of how we whakamana (uphold the mana of) our service personnel by making sure their names are correct,” said Victoria Passau, Collection Manager. 

On 19 March 1946, the main body of Jayforce landed in Japan to commemorate the 75th anniversary of this landing. Gail Romano, Associate Curator, History, wrote about some of their stories. 

In May, a private ceremony was held in the World War II Hall of Memories to acknowledge the outstanding gallantry displayed by three Victor Six soldiers during operation Hermit Park, Vietnam, in June 1971 — Private William Papuni, Private Mike Williams and Private John Galley. Victoria Passau spoke to Norman Fry, V6 Platoon Commander who lobbied for 50 years  to have their  gallantry recognised.

Sunday producer and Mark Crysell talk to Norman Fry.

Sunday producer and Mark Crysell talk to Norman Fry.

Auckland Museum. All Rights Reserved.

September saw two significant dates, Merchant Navy Day, and Battle of Britain Day. To commemorate those who served in the Merchant Navy during the Second World War, Gail Romano wrote about 500 merchant seaman who were taken prisoner of war and stranded on Emirau. Dr Andrew Low, Associate Curator Contemporary World, interviewed Niuean born Dean Lupo Anaki about his experience working in the New Zealand Merchant Navy from 1957 until 1973

By the end of July 1940, New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Fred Jones was noting 710 New Zealand pilots were in the RAF, and 135 New Zealanders flew with Fighter Command during the furious four months of the Battle of Britain. To commemorate the many New Zealanders who served during the Battle of Britain, Gail Romano highlighted some of these incredible pilots. 

Since we couldn’t  hold a commemorative event for Passchendaele in person, Gail wrote about acts of remembrance of New Zealand's darkest day. Featuring New Zealand poet and writer Kevin Ireland's A Fine Morning at Passchendaele and the temporary memorial Coming World Remember Me, an installation to commemorate the 100th centenary of the First World War. 

Representatives laid wreaths on behalf of the people of Auckland, veterans, service personnel and the Museum, for Armistice Day 2021.

Representatives laid wreaths on behalf of the people of Auckland, veterans, service personnel and the Museum, for Armistice Day 2021.

© Auckland War Memorial Museum, photographed by Richard Ng.

Instead of the usual Armistice Day memorial service, the Auckland RSA hosted a small, socially distanced wreath-laying event at the Auckland Cenotaph. Representatives laid wreaths on behalf of the people of Auckland, veterans, service personnel and the Museum.

We shared a video from Armistice Day 2020:

DATA PARTNERS

We were pleased to be able to share more than 1,000 records of our Pacific service personnel with Digital Pasifik, and have begun discussions to add records to the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Kiwi Collection.

ONLINE CENOTAPH TURNS 25 

The Cenotaph Database, as it was called then, was launched in December 1996. It began as a digital roll of honour for service men and women who died on active service. The database and its physical embodiment, the Armoury Information Centre, were envisioned to provide additional information on New Zealanders role during the war and the related Scars on the Heart galleries. Online Cenotaph now holds more than 255,000 records, spanning 40 conflicts and includes both living and deceased service personnel. We will be sharing the history of Online Cenotaph in a programme of events throughout 2022.

Dan Millar at National Library, Wellington.

Dan Millar at National Library, Wellington.

© Victoria Passau

This year we also farewelled Collection Technician Dan Millar, who took up an exciting job opportunity with the Ministry of Education in Wellington. Dan joined Online Cenotaph in 2016, when he was appointed to help run the Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre and Online Cenotaph. A strong ambassador and advocate for Online Cenotaph, over the past two years he led the Archives New Zealand project which has meant we are able to create strong Online Cenotaph records for those who served with the Air Force and Navy during World War Two, and those in post-1945 conflicts. He was instrumental in the planning and execution of Post-Vietnam War Memorial in the WWII Hall of Memories and for the corrections and additions to the Hall of Memories. He has built strong links with our veteran communities including with his WWI Cook Islands research and more recently with the Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam veterans’ associations. This has enabled us to create thousands of new records in Online Cenotaph to acknowledge their service. Dan was a much loved member of the Online Cenotaph team; we are excited for this new opportunity and wish him all the very best. 

STATISTICS 
Every year one of our highlights is working with our researchers and contributors who add incredible amounts of information to Online Cenotaph. Below we have shared our statistics from our user statistics. We also share these monthly on our Statistics and Usage page. We also love to connect with whānau, researchers, veterans to help answer your questions and assist with your research enquiries this year we have answered over 2000 of your enquiries. 

Summary of Online Cenotaph user contributions, and statistics for 2021.

Summary of Online Cenotaph user contributions, and statistics for 2021.

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Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Online Cenotaph this year, we appreciate all your work to make Online Cenotaph what it is, and we are excited to celebrate 25 years of Online Cenotaph with you next year. 
 


Cite this article

Madison Pine and Victoria Passau. A Year in Review: Online Cenotaph 2021. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 6 December 2021. Updated: 10 December 2021.
URL: www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/features/2021