'Field of poppies' a tribute to those who died in war

TOM HUNT
Last updated 05:00 20/04/2013
Becs Young
POIGNANT TIME: Becs Young helped to lay out the poppies as a way to honour her grandfather, who died this week. He would have given the poppy field a thumbs up, she says.

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Becs Young didn't think twice about getting up before dawn to arrange poppies the day after her grandfather died.

"I just knew there was no better way to honour him," the Westpac events manager said. She was part of a team of 20 volunteers who laid out 20,000 remembrance poppies on Poppy Day at Midland Park in central Wellington from 3.45am yesterday.

"Pa had a wicked sense of humour and was a real trickster. It makes me smile to think what his reaction to the poppy field would be - probably a thumbs up followed by ‘bonzer'."

Her World War II veteran grandfather Mick Moynihan died on Thursday, with his best mate Arthur Avis holding his hand. The pair met as cabin-mates on a ship on their way to fight in World War II and had been best friends since.

Mr Moynihan fought in Egypt and Italy, then went to Japan after the atomic bombings. He went on to live in Waikanae and was a member of the Otaki RSA, marching every Anzac Day that his health would allow.

"It was a really nice feeling, a really proud moment," Ms Young said of being part of the group laying out the poppies yesterday morning.

Westpac spokeswoman Sharon van Gulik said passers-by on their way to work were invited to take a poppy and make a donation to the Returned and Services Association.

The bank also gave a separate, undisclosed donation to the RSA.

About 20 volunteers from Westpac threw their hats in the ring for the early start. "We just asked for volunteers and we were inundated."

The red field poppy has long been associated with remembrance of war dead. In the spring of 1915 poppies flowered in the battle fields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli.

The story goes that Canadian soldier John McCrae composed the poem In Flanders Field in May 1915, after the death of a friend, inspired by the red poppies that had sprung up on the burial grounds.

ANZAC DAY TRUMPS WAITANGI DAY: POLL

Anzac Day means more to New Zealanders than Waitangi Day, a new survey has found.

Asked by UMR Research which meant more to them, six out of 10 Kiwis put Anzac Day well ahead of our national day.

Waitangi Day, marking the signing of the nation's founding document, was rated the more important by only 8 per cent, with 29 per cent saying the days were equally meaningful.

Anzac Day is held on April 25 to honour Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) soldiers who fought at Gallipoli in World War I.

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Over time it has come to broadly commemorate all those who served and died serving their country, and as such has attracted anti-war protesters.

But Waitangi Day celebrations have been more controversial, with Waitangi itself at times the scene of heated protest, so much so that Prime Minister Helen Clark refused to attend celebrations there in 2000. Maori expressed very different views to the overall findings, with 29 per cent saying Anzac Day meant more, 14 per cent saying Waitangi Day meant more, and 56 per cent refusing to put one above the other.

National voters (78 per cent), those whose highest qualification is from high school (67 per cent) and aged over 60 were more likely to place Anzac Day on the pedestal.

Green voters (21 per cent) and people with postgraduate qualifications (17 per cent) were clearly most likely to say Waitangi Day meant more.

The survey of 1000 New Zealanders 18 and over was done between March 28 and April 8.

The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

- The Dominion Post

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