Wargamers needed to help create Gallipoli diorama
The former head of the Defence Force has swapped combat troops for model soldiers and is looking for help to get his new army into fighting shape.
Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, who served as Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force from 2011 to 2014, has accepted an assignment from Sir Peter Jackson: to prepare 4000 tiny pewter warriors for a diorama depicting the battle of Chunuk Bair.
The massive display will feature in the World War I museum exhibition Jackson is putting together to mark this year's centenary of the Gallipoli landings.
The Academy Award-winning director was going to have the 54mm Anzac and Turkish troops painted in China. But Jones suggested getting Kiwi wargamers to volunteer their paint brushes instead.
"I thought they would be quite keen to have some of their work contribute to the project," he said.
"We're trying to have as many New Zealanders contribute as we can so the project is owned by the public."
Wargaming is a hobby that involves painting armies of model soldiers and ammunition, then pitting them against other wargamers in military-style strategy games.
Jones, who has been a wargamer since the age of 14, described it as a form of "sophisticated chess" that was considerably different to directing the real armed forces of this country.
"You can take a few more risks that you might not do when people's lives are on the line."
With Jackson having been tied up until recently completing his last Hobbit movie, the timeframe for completing the work was now an "ambitious" one.
Jones is looking to enlist 100 painters to complete about 40 figurines each over the next two months.
About 60 wargamers from across the country have already signed up, while others in Britain, Germany and South America have expressed interest.
He would not go into detail about the finished diorama, as he wanted to retain the element of surprise. But he confidently described it as "mind-blowing".
Hutt Miniature Wargames Club president Tom Leamy said it was exciting to be part of the project. "A lot of what we do at the club is pay homage to the battles that were fought in these wars.
"Wargaming isn't just about pushing toys around . . . we learn a lot about these battles, so to be part of marking something as iconic as Gallipoli is a real honour."
Jackson's World War I exhibition will open on Anzac Day and run through to Armistice Day 2018.
It will be housed in the former Dominion Museum building in central Wellington, which overlooks the new National War Memorial Park that will open at the same time.
- More information on the project can be found here: https://arteis.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/sir-peter-jackson-needs-kiwi-wargamers/
- The Dominion Post