Anzacs 'not overlooked' in commemorations

Last updated 11:02 10/01/2014

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The Government has rejected British media reports that the contribution of Anzac soldiers to World War I will be overlooked in this year's centenary celebrations.

A British Government source told the Telegraph newspaper soldiers from the West Indies and India would be honoured in commemorations of the start of the war, but the Anzac contribution would not feature.

In the newspaper report, New Zealand born writer Murray Rowlands said the "old empire" was being ignored.

"There is nothing in David Cameron's programme of commemoration that mentions these [Anzac] countries. I have seen nothing on Canada or South Africa either. The old empire is being overlooked."

But New Zealand Arts and Culture Minister Chris Finlayson said the newspaper reports were inaccurate.

New Zealand would be recognised and had its own programme of commemorations for the anniversary, he said.

"I have had a number of discussions ... [with the British Government] and there is a high level of recognition of the contribution of New Zealand and a desire from Britain and other countries that New Zealand does its bit to tell its story."

All Commonwealth countries wanted their contributions recognised and the British were conscious of that.

"Where I think the wires may have been crossed is that there is ... a lot of interest from former colonies of Britain that contributed, take for example Nepal, or India ... and various people are saying we need to be mindful of this contribution or that contribution and I think that is totally correct."

The Telegraph reported officials in charge of the British commemorations were concentrating on the role played by troops from the ''New Commonwealth'' - nations which gained their independence after 1945.

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria and other West African former colonies were to be singled out for promotion.

The Telegraph reported this was to promote ''community cohesion'' in the UK - leading to allegations the British Government was trying to politicise the event.

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- Stuff

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