Editorial: A symbol in good standing

Last updated 05:00 27/06/2014

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OPINION: Some New Zealanders are at times too fond of making grand pronouncements not only about what exactly it was that our fallen soldiers did and didn't die for but also how they would undoubtedly feel about all manner of things.

We'll grant you this, however. If those departed men and women are somewhere out there and still paying attention, news that the manufacture and distribution of the commemorative Anzac poppy is returning to New Zealand - and the embattled Christchurch - will go down well with them.

As it does with the rest of us, for reasons more profound than easily-evoked jingoism.

Those poppies are among the most potent symbols in our society. For that reason it also seemed hugely symbolic, and not in a good way, when the contract for their production went offshore for three years.

We were assured that it made financial sense and that since the final proceeds went back to welfare support, the change would result in greater practical benefit for the nation's veterans.

Maybe so, but the awareness that we couldn't undertake even so quietly grave a task as this among ourselves sat badly with more than the crusty and cantankerous.

Some stopped buying them altogether. Others - and this was better - gave the collectors a donation but declined the poppy itself.

Happily the Christchurch RSA, having lost the contract, didn't lose its heart in this matter, nor in the subsequent challenges that came from the earthquake and subsequent insurance fight. Its latest tender has proven successful.

The bottom-line poppy proceeds are spent on welfare initiatives ranging from cataract surgery to transport for hospital appointments, mobility scooters, funerals, even a recent firewood delivery to a flooding victim. It's good stuff.

Whether or not people might have, or should have, reacted with greater equanimity to the initial decision by the RSA national executive, the fact remains that when the poppies go on sale next year the reasons to buy them will be as compelling as they have ever been.

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- The Southland Times

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