Capturing our war heroes while we can

22:03, Apr 23 2014
War vet John McPhail
NATIONAL TREASURE: Christchurch’s 95-year-old Jock McPhail, of the 19th Armoured Regiment, was the first of 3000 World War II veterans to have his portrait captured for the RSA.

A photographic honour roll will be created tomorrow, in what may be the last Anzac Day for some of the 3000 remaining veterans of World War II.

More than 100 professional photographers will volunteer their services at RSA clubs tomorrow, taking regimental portraits of any man or woman who served overseas during the war.

The photos will be gifted to the Returned and Services Association in time for next year's Gallipoli centenary, and will also form a travelling exhibition around the country.

Veterans who cannot attend an RSA tomorrow can arrange a follow-up portrait, New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers executive director Megan Jones says.

"The main aim is to provide a record of these people before we can't any more. It's a gift to the New Zealand archives, basically."

A sitting would take about five minutes, and some veterans might be asked to sit for a more creative portrait with a photographer in subsequent weeks, Jones said.


Documentary-style pictures would also be captured of attendees at tomorrow's Anzac parades, services, wreath-layings and morning teas at RSAs.

Wellington photographer Jason Naylor has organised 15 photographers to catch as many of the region's 220 veterans as possible on camera.

The portraits would be solemn, but still show character and expression in the veterans' faces, he said.

RSA chief executive David Moger said the project would result in a collection of national significance.

"The act of taking the photographs will show our veterans that they are remembered and that the sacrifices they made for the freedom of us all are still honoured."

In Wellington, there will be photographers at Pipitea Marae, Lower Hutt Memorial RSA, Petone Club, Eastbourne RSA, Upper Hutt Cossie Club, Porirua RSA, Paraparaumu RSA, Otaki RSA and Masterton RSA.

The Dominion Post