The Veteran’s Affairs annual competition “Why do we remember the battle of Passchendaele?” was won by Mina Bixley from Tauhara College in Taupo. Mina Bixley’s winning entry was a short film she scripted and animated herself. You can view Mina’s entry here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDXpF468e9Y.
Nina Richardson from Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington won second prize with the following poem called ‘the things they did, the things they didn’t’
so much has been said
so many words have tried to wrap themselves
around this horror thing
this beast of blood and mud thing
in the aftermath of screaming grey
of cracks, echoes
(an ash cloud that will never quite dissipate)
it’s easy for things to slip between the cracks
for a spark of courage to drift, forgotten
for names to blur into the mud
to disappear in rain, under boot stamp
the ground there heavier, somehow
thickened by hot blood and shot-down dreams
hopes pinned to the ground by barbed wire uncut
(few things weigh more than never coming home again)
boy targets still milk-young, all tooth and strong arm
they wilt into pages of text with no beating heart
0525 preliminary artillery
barrage 12/10 quagmire
craters gunfire fire shells 845
front and flank and flame
casualty is a cold word
(all stretchers and hospital halls and missing things)
no room for the crumbs of anzac from home, for freckles
for the songs they sang, the last face they saw
when they closed their eyes
this village meant so little, in the end
a shivering emptiness in the spires, the streets
but these men, with their rushing humanity
their bravery fire-hot, footstep after footstep
shot after shell after shot after hell
these men meant so much
they mean our seas, blue and endless
our rolling hills, straining with life
our trees, the songs in them
our skies, full, our hearts
a country living and growing with fervour
with fern and green and good
they mean each free breath
we weep for what they never got to do
we live for what they did
2015 Portia Baine
The 2015 Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs Multi Media Competition “Why should we remember the Battle of Passchendaele?” was won by Portia Baine from Sacred Heart’s Girls College, Hamilton.
Her winning poem was titled “Passchendaele” and not only impressed judges but also all those who were present at the 2015 commemoration at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Bring me a memory
make it warm
like a hug and
nostalgic like the childhood
I thought I had.
But no one says
Bring me the past
make it cold and tragic
painful and real.
Bring me the battles which taught tears how to form
and communities how to grieve.
Bring me the memory of a bleak October day
remind me of the Battle of Passchendaele,
tell me how they suffered and died for a war which only foreshadowed another.
Please tell me more.
No one ever says that.
People whisper to each other in front of a stone monument
filled with names and history
and say, wasn’t that awful
I can’t imagine how their families must have felt.
But no one ever says
Please tell me about the death
I want to hear how thousands of lives were ended by
the cut and slice of a reaper called to action
by the assassination of an Archduke.
No one ever walks up to historians
and begs for memories – Real memories
Not just Places and Dates,
But Details and Deaths
Facts and Faces.
No one ever says help me remember Passchendaele
Help me make sure that it
No one says that enough.
Portia Baine, 2015.
2013 James Costello Ladanyi
His winning video is:
2012 Nathan Garry
The 2012 Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs Passchendaele Competition was won by Nathan Garry with the following entry: