Timing of white poppy appeal 'contemptible'
The war of the red and white poppies has reignited as the RSA launches its annual Poppy Day street appeal.
The Returned and Services Association is accusing White Poppies for Peace of "piggy-backing" on the popular appeal by launching its own annual appeal today. The red poppy appeal maintains funding to care for returned servicemen and their families, while the white poppy appeal will raise money in Kapiti and Horowhenua on Tuesday for its White Poppy Peace Scholarships for tertiary students.
Vietnam veteran and Paraparaumu RSA vice-president Chris Turver said the peace group was deliberately piggy-backing on Anzac Day.
"It is another attempt to undermine the purpose of the RSA's red poppy appeal, just three days before New Zealanders commemorate the sacrifice of 32,700 men and women killed in action since the Boer War," Turver said.
The pacifist group sparked strong opposition from the RSA four years ago when it tried to sell white poppies the day before Anzac Day.
Turver said it was "contemptible to deliberately choose a collection date which undermines the sacrifices of so many New Zealanders who gave their lives to preserve the right of groups just like this to have their say".
He suggested the group collect on Armistice Day in November, commemorating the peace that ended World War I.
RSA president Don McIver said the white poppy appeal detracted from the RSA appeal. "They call it a peace poppy but, in my view, the red poppy is a peace poppy. We do not put the red poppy out to glorify anything, we put it there as a remembrance of the sacrifice people made for peace and unity."
White Poppy member the Very Rev John Murray, a Presbyterian minister from Raumati, said: "The white poppy emphasises peaceful relations with our former enemies the Germans and Japanese. We are not in any competition or confrontation with those for whom the red poppy is still something sacred.
"But, like a growing number in our community, we want to say no to war."
Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse said: "I acknowledge that everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this issue but I find it inappropriate that another group would try to ride on the coat-tails of the long-established Poppy Day. I would suggest they find another time of the year to collect for their cause."
The Dominion Post