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.

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 Blenheim Professional photographer Ilan Wittenberg's aim is to photograph most of the 50 World War II veterans attending the Anzac Day service in Blenheim.

To make this happen, he will set up a small studio inside the Blenheim RSA to make it as easy as possible for veterans to take part after the service.

Wittenberg promises a complimentary print as a gift to every veteran.

Simply come to the Panama room after the service.

The Dominion Post