Wednesday October 11, 2017
Passchendaele tragedy strikes close to home
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Toi Pōneke exhibition coming up “Are yous ok?” opens at Toi Pōneke on October 20 and runs until November 11. Gina Matchitt’s exhibition looks at issues of disparity and inequality, namely, Pakeha privilege and Māori disadvantage in New Zealand society.
Jack Gradwell with one of the Great War Exhibition models on display in the Dominion museum. PHOTO: Glenise Dreaver By Glenise Dreaver
Jack Gradwell of Thorndon, a student of International Relations at Victoria University, knew that the centenary of the battle of Passchendaele was coming up this year. He works part-time at the Dominion Museum, where the Great War Exhibition is being run by the The National Military Heritage Charitable Trust, and took the opportunity to brush up on his history. He wanted to find out where his relatives were in World War I. He discovered that two of his great-great grandfathers were
at Passchendaele – and both returned from the carnage, unlike the 846 who never came back from what is still described as “New Zealand’s blackest day”. What Jack discovered about G e orge G r a dwel l, f rom Ghuznee Street Te Aro, left him amazed. “He had one of the worst medical records of any New Zealand soldier. At different times he was buried alive, he had his skull fractured and he was mustard gassed. All in different actions, but he survived.” “And I knew he was decorated, but not for what.” George earned the Military
George Gradwell. PHOTO provided by Pukeahu National War Memorial Museum
Medal at Passchendaele for his work in carrying messages from one post to another. “Under heavy shell and machine gun fire, through poison gas, at times up to his waist in mud and blood. He did that for three days straight,” says Jack. There are limited family memories and most of what Jack knows of him has been through military records. He has, however, seen and touched George’s medals and provided the museum with his bayonet and his camera. The family connection continues too. His uncle John still lives in the Island Bay house that
George lived in after the war. The Great War Exhibition has been created by Sir Peter Jackson to commemorate the role of New Zealand in that conflict. The additional Passchendaele exhibition room tells the story of the battle mainly through the medium of a rolling five minute audio-visual display. Centenary commemorations of the Battle of Passchendaele will be held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Buckle St, on Thursday, October 12 at 3pm.
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Lower Hutt light carnival Over Labour Weekend, Lower Hutt’s first Carnival of Lights will provide an interactive carnival of light installations and live performances. For four nights from Friday, October 20, visitors will experience displays, live family entertainment and hands-on features as they explore Riddiford Gardens. A Hutt City Council spokesperson says there will be an array of installations and immersive experiences as well as a line-up of performances that will include aerial performances inside a giant inflatable light bulb. Children will also be able to have their hands decorated with colourful UV reactive paints. Food trucks and cafés will open late and there will be entertainment from 7-9.30pm with a magician, a DJ and bands, and a nightly firework display, a spokesperson said.
Independent Herald 11-10-17