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Gallipoli Cemented Our National Identity

Gallipoli Cemented Our National Identity

April 10, 2013

Gallipoli was a campaign where we lost our innocence.

Glyn Harper, Professor of War Studies at Massey University, says the lesson learned from Gallipoli was one of valour and values.

Professor Harper is coordinating the first definitive history of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War which will progressively be released over the next six years to commemorate the centenary of the conflict and, in particular, New Zealand’s participation at Gallipoli.

Professor Harper was engaged by Massey University to coordinate the project in partnership with the New Zealand Defence Force, the RSA and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

He is writing one of the volumes Johnny New Zealand –the NZ soldier in the First World War – with the first volume in the centenary history being released by the end of this year.

Professor Harper says Gallipoli was the first big battle for Australia and New Zealand. “It was a time when we learned about ourselves and our values. We discovered our own self-worth and Australia as a fighting partner. It gave a huge push to cementing our national identity,” he says.

“It led to a major shift in our attitude to Australia and Britain. While we initially thought the Australian soldier was ill-disciplined, Gallipoli brought us together however we quickly learned we weren’t British nor were we inferior to them.”

He says other nations respected our strength, courage and capabilities, we became tried and trusted and, in times of conflict we were not found wanting. At Gallipoli and, on the Western Front, Dominion forces were the spearhead divisions in the thick of the fighting.

While Gallipoli was one of New Zealand’s greatest tragedies, it was a “victory over death and suffering and for the human spirit,” Professor Harper says. “We commemorate Gallipoli on Anzac Day nearly 100 years on.”

For that reason Glyn Harper is travelling as one of the historians on an official commemorative tour of Gallipoli and Turkey organised by House of Travel and the Royal New Zealand RSA.

The tour from April 19 to April 27, 2015, is a nine day pilgrimage that takes in a range of definitive battlefield tours along with the centenary of Anzac Day, April 25, itself. Included in the package is sightseeing around Istanbul, the opportunity to pay personal tribute to fallen New Zealand POWs at the consulate cemetery in Istanbul and visits to the Temple of Athena and the ancient city of Troy, the scene of the Trojan Wars.

Organised by Steve Parsons, Managing Director of Stephen Parsons House of Travel in Palmerston North, the tour underpins the locations and events that will feature in the history that Professor Harper is writing.

Accompanying Glyn Harper on the tour will be Christopher Pugsley, Senior Lecturer in War Studies, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, a world authority on the Gallipoli campaign and Dr Stephen Clarke, Historian and CEO of the RNZRSA. Advisor to the tour is Dr Ian McGibbon, War Historian and Battlefield Advisor.

“We want to capture the essence of the definitive history and take people to Anzac Cove and Gallipoli peninsula so they can pay their own tribute to the sacrifice made by thousands of New Zealanders and Australians,” Steve Parsons says.

Since launching his tour nationally in conjunction with the RSA, Steve has received over a hundred confirmed bookings out of a capacity of 200 people with about 80 vacancies left.

As Easter and Anzac Day approach, Steve believes the 98th anniversary is an ideal time to consider travelling on the 2015 commemorative tour when families and friends come together and in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before.


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