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Navy Veterans in focus

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Navy Veterans in focus

Leading Seaman S. P. Money World War II


Navy Veterans in Focus 1941 – 2006: Photographs by Nikki Payne 15 September – 12 November, Pictorial Gallery, Level Two

The Royal New Zealand Navy Museum and Auckland War Memorial Museum are collaborating in an exhibition to celebrate the Year of the Veteran and the upcoming 65th anniversary of the Navy.

The exhibition features large-scale photographs of Royal New Zealand Navy veterans, taken by photographer Nikki Payne. The photos tell the stories of twenty individual Navy _veterans and through them the story of the Navy, from World War II to recent campaigns and operations in the Persian Gulf, East Timor and Afghanistan.

Photographer Nikki Payne wanted the exhibition to highlight the naval veterans as part of the community, “Naval veterans range in age from their twenties to their eighties (and for some hardy and salty ones, even older). I hope to remind the viewer that our now-elderly veterans were young once, - most became veterans in their teens and twenties - and they all have stories to tell. The display sets up conversations and relationships between the photographs: veterans who are still in the Navy, and those that are out of the Navy; those that were at war, and those who were peacekeepers.”

All subjects were asked to dress as if they were going to an Anzac parade. This is one time in the year when both Navy veterans (current and ex-Navy) meet and join together on parade as one. After the Anzac parade they exchange stories at the RSA (Returned Services Association).

All the veterans hold a photograph of themselves: the situation where they qualified for one of the medals they wear. I realised when photographing the veterans that, when they leave the military, the only reminder they have of serving in war, or in an operation, are their medals - and if they are lucky - some photographs. The photograph within the photograph represents the inextricable nature of past and present narratives. The subjects project a vulnerability in the ‘presentation’ of their past – a presentation that is simultaneously tentative and proud.

Rear Admiral David Ledson, Chief of Navy, says “many of the elements of these stories will be new to most New Zealanders. The Navy by its nature has written much of its history overseas and at sea – out of the sight and mind of the vast majority of us.” He hopes the exhibition gives those who view it an understanding of the Navy is and what it does. “Consequently, I am sure it will also help correct the widespread view that the story of the Navy is only a story of ships. And that people will come to understand that the Navy’s story is also very much a story of sailors and their contribution to the prosperity and security of all New Zealanders – on and from the sea.”

For further information contact Margi Mellsop Marketing Manager Auckland Museum Ph: 306 7051 or 0275 455 2400 Terry Manson Public Programmes Manager Navy Museum Ph 446 1826
Hi resolution images can be downloaded from the news and media section of our website
Leading Seaman S. P. Money World War II "We were welcomed by Captain Bell, who introduced himself as Captain Bell from the EXETER (which we had just lost.) Then he began to tell us how he had just seen the Admiral and things were going well in the War. We were sort of looking around where we were standing and all the buildings were scarred with shrapnel and there were holes in everything and we thought, if this was winning…….."

(Chief Petty Officer Medic S.J. Lockyer Iraq, Arabian Gulf, East Timor

"Had better send this letter off swiftly or I may never end up posting it. Please say "HI" to everyone back home. Will try and write more frequently. Try not to worry too much about me as I am doing fine."

Letter sent home on Friday 8 March 1996

Lieutenant Commander K.E. Woodhead, MNZM, RNZN Arabian Gulf, Sinai, Afghanistan "The University had been the target of an American bomb during the war, as the Taleban were headquartered there. The Americans and Kiwis rebuilt it, and on Opening Day it was potentially a target again, but this time for the Taleban or Al Qaeda. Opening Day saw the weird juxtaposition of banners, flags, fighter bombers, US Marines, helicopter gunships and heavily armed Kiwis."


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