New Zealand: Creative and challenging memorial to a World War One CO

Photo: Peace Action WellingtonPhoto: Peace Action Wellington

A creative and challenging memorial in ‪New Zealand saw 'guerilla [unauthorised and unannounced]sculptures' being tied around poles in Wellington. They depict World War One conscientious objector Archie Baxter, in the 'field punishment number one position'. Peace Action Wellington's website says: 'On the 1st of October 1917, three New Zealand conscientious objectors to fighting in world war one received Field Punishment No. 1. They were suspended from poles at a punishment camp. Their hands were bound tightly behind their backs for up to four hours per day in all weathers. The poles were tipped forward, and the ropes cut into the flesh, cutting off blood flow.'

The statues were placed on Anzac Day, a national day of rememberance in Australia and New Zealand for their war dead. Peace Action Wellington says 'Conscientious objectors withstood horrific conditions and physical torment to defend peace and protest the unnecessary deaths of millions. With the ongoing militarisation of ANZAC day, its romanticisation of war, and its promotion of the armed forces, it is no surprise that the stories of conscientious objectors are left out of the ANZAC myth.'

Photo: Peace Action Wellington-2Photo: Peace Action Wellington-2

Sources: Peace Action Wellington, Remembering the conscientious objectors, 25 April 2016; Stuff.nz, Conscientious objector Archie Baxter remembered in guerrilla sculpture, 26 April 2016.