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Highwic commemorates WWI for Heritage Festival

September 11, 2014

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Highwic commemorates WWI for Heritage Festival

One of New Zealand’s most loved radio veterans will read from a book that made history in more ways than one as part of the Auckland Heritage Festival.

Merv Smith – who dominated Auckland’s radio ratings on 1ZB for over 25 years – will read extracts from The Anzac Book during two sessions over the course of the Festival.

The Anzac Book Readings will take place at Highwic, the historic mansion in Newmarket cared for by Heritage New Zealand, on September 28 and October 12 (3-4.30pm each session).

The Anzac Book was created by New Zealand and Australian soldiers fighting at Gallipoli and became one of the first and finest ‘trench publications’ produced during World War I,” says the Manager of Highwic, Cheryl Laurie.

“It’s an extraordinary book written under extraordinary circumstances, with soldiers under enemy fire and experiencing extreme hardship. The illustrations, stories, cartoons and poems were intended as a Christmas and New Year diversion for soldiers facing a harsh winter in the trenches.”

When it was first released in 1916 it became an instant best seller on both sides of the Tasman, with the public snapping up 100,000 copies of the book – one of which was bought by Ruth Buckland, who inherited Highwic from her parents, Alfred and Matilda Buckland.

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Ruth’s first edition copy remains in Highwic’s collection.

“Excerpts from The Anzac Book will be brought to life by Merv Smith – one of the best story tellers in the business,” says Cheryl.

“We’re really looking forward to Merv’s readings, and know that these sessions will have tremendous appeal to a wide range of people and ages. The readings also fit in well with the Auckland Heritage Festival’s theme of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.”

In keeping with this Anzac and World War I theme, Highwic will also host a special Soldiers Biscuit Baking Day on October 2 and October 9 for children (three sessions: 10-11.30am; 12-1.30pm and2-3.30pm).

“Originally called Soldiers Biscuits, the forerunner of what we know as Anzac Biscuits were a long-keeping biscuit that were so hard they needed dunking. The biscuits were renamed Anzac Biscuits after the Gallipoli campaign,” says Cheryl.

“Anzac Biscuits were made by mothers and wives in Australia and New Zealand to send to soldiers on active duty. Over the years the recipe changed, producing sweeter and softer biscuits. The biscuits we’ll be making on Highwic’s coal range, however, will be the real deal – the original ‘hard tack’ version.”

Baking day will be limited to three sessions, with 10 children per session.

Other Auckland Heritage Festival events at Highwic include two Parlour Parties – The Games We Played – on Oct 1 and Oct 8 (10-12pm and 1-3pm), where children can enjoy Victorian fun including traditional games like musical chairs and Blind Man’s Bluff. Highwic’s Cook will also light up the coal range to make scones and cup-cakes, and do some ironing using old range-heated irons.

These events are popular and bookings are essential. For bookings, or further information, contact Highwic: Email highwic@heritage.org.nz or visit www.highwic.co.nz


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