Gallipoli centenary places awarded

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 15:43 31/03/2014
Gallipoli_Landscape
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People watch the New Zealand Commemorative Service at Chunuk Bair in Gallipoli, Turkey.

ANZAC Day 2012 mugshots
New Zealand's roll of honour from The Weekly Press, 1915. Mugshots of casualties from Gallipoli.

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Almost 2000 New Zealanders have been given the chance to attend the ceremony marking the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey.

The Government released the names of those who will have a spot reserved at the Gallipoli 2015 ceremony today.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse said 950 double passes were issued (1900 places in total), with 100 special passes held back from the ballot to be issued to youth and other representatives later.

Nearly 10,000 Kiwis registered for the chance to attend the Anzac Day centenary commemorations, meaning four out of five applicants missed out.

The Gallipoli 2015 ballot closed in January and attracted 9851 applications, Woodhouse said.

Just 2000 places were available to New Zealanders, after the Turkish Government set a limit of 10,500 to attend the centenary services on April 25, 2015.

Australia got 8000 places, although nearly 30,000 entered the ballot.

The number was based on the relative number of casualties suffered by each country at Gallipoli during World War I.

More than a quarter of those who received a double pass were direct descendants of those who fought at Gallipoli, Woodhouse said.

"Of the 950 double passes available, 251 were won by direct descendants of those who fought at Gallipoli, 149 by veterans, and 550 by members of the general public," he said.

"This result reflects the public consultation undertaken in 2012 that a cross-section of contemporary New Zealanders are able to participate in these commemorations, with special places available for descendants of Gallipoli veterans, and veterans of other conflicts."

A wait list has been created if anyone forfeits their double pass.

"With such high demand and limited places, there will no doubt be many people disappointed at not being successful in the ballot," Woodhouse said.

Emails would be sent to all applicants from today advising of the ballot outcome, with follow-up letters posted in the coming week.

Successful pass-holders will be able to access their online account, or contact the Gallipoli 2015 call centre, to update their details from 5pm.

Unsuccessful applicants who elected to go on the wait list can update their contact details by contacting the Gallipoli 2015 call centre.

Those who wish to find their position on the wait list can email info@gallipoli2015.govt.nz

Returned Services Association (RSA) president Don McIver said he was pleased with the ballot process.

"We've known for some time what the proportions would be and alongside the 75 per cent for the public it seems to be a pretty fair proportion," he said.

"It's a solid process which will stand any test and I think we can be satisfied it has been well done and honestly done.

"We will get the people over there who have been properly selected by ballot and deserve to go."

The Government was considering holding a second New Zealand service at Gallipoli in August 2015 to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Chunuk Bair, and an approach had been made to the Turkish authorities, Woodhouse said.

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On August 8, 1915, the Wellington Battalion suffered almost 700 casualties capturing the highest point of the Gallipoli campaign.

New Zealand troops held the point for two days before being relieved by British troops, who were then forced off the position after a massive Turkish counter-attack.

McIver said a second ceremony, to commemorate such a significant event, was a great idea.

"We've all been giving that some thought because that's a date of special significance to New Zealand service at Gallipoli and it deserves to be given special significance in the centenary year," he said.

CAMPAIGN INSPIRES PLAY

Heroic stories from Gallipoli are returning to the stage after a quarter-century absence.

Inspired by the courage of New Zealanders in the Gallipoli campaign, Once on Chunuk Bair will be performed in Auckland in June.

Set in 1915, the play follows the Wellington Battalion's fateful task to charge the strategic peak of Chunuk Bair on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsular.

Maurice Shadbolt's play first appeared on stage 25 years ago and went on to become a film in 1992.

Auckland Theatre Company (ATC) is bringing the play back to the stage ahead of next year's centenary of the 1915 Gallipoli landings.

ATC artistic director Colin McColl said the play was a moving account of the Gallipoli battle.

"These young men headed off to war in good faith to fight for king and country, only to be used as cannon fodder by their British commanders," McColl said.

"Once on Chunuk Bair shows the courage and endurance of our brave lads, the friendships and camaraderie they had for each other. It's an event that has defined the Anzac spirit."

Ian Mune, who first brought the play to the stage in 1982 and directed the last professional production in 1989, will once again direct the play.

The cast includes Andrew Grainger (Chicago), Wesley Dowdell (Outrageous Fortune) and Kevin Keys (The Almighty Johnsons and Nothing Trivial).

Once on Chunuk Bair runs from June 12 to July 5 at Auckland's Maidment Theatre.


 


- Stuff

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