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Tue 19 Apr 2016, 7:30pm–8:45pm

Where: Davis Theatre, Watt St, Whanganui, Manawatu / Whanganui

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Koha appreciated, Anzac biscuits and mugs of tea or Bovril provided.

When the war broke out in 1914 New Zealand men in their thousands answered the call to arms. By the end of the first week of the war 14,000 had volunteered to enlist. Despite confident claims that it would be ‘over by Christmas’, by 1916 the war appeared no closer to a conclusion. The seemingly endless toll in lives and maimed men began to impact on public sentiment. Although there were intensive campaigns to encourage enlistment only 30% of men eligible for military service volunteered.

Britain introduced conscription in January 1916 and New Zealand followed suit in the winter to maintain its supply of reinforcements. The Military Service Act initially imposed conscription on Pākehā only, but by June 1917 this was extended to Māori. Ultimately more than 30,000 conscripts had enlisted by the end of the war.

Senior Historian-Educator at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Steve Watters, will investigate the reaction to the introduction of conscription in New Zealand. He will also look at the role of the Wanganui Detention Barracks which, according to the Truth newspaper became a byword for brutality and the violent mistreatment of conscientious objectors incarcerated there during the war.

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