ANZAC message from the Principal

Dear Parents and Caregivers, As we are about to head into a change in lockdown from Level 4 to Level 3, I thought that for this update we should take time to reflect on one of the most important days in our country's calendar, ANZAC Day.

We have a very close connection with our local RSA. Neill Price is often at school looking for a free coffee or maybe something from our school café! He was our guest at our very private leavers' assembly, and has embraced our school and involved the school as much as possible with any local RSA commemorations. Our school also has the first student in New Zealand to be on an RSA executive, Leyton Wright, our Head Boy for 2020. And of course every year we have our head students speak on ANZAC Day, two at the dawn parade and two at the morning commemoration.

I cannot think of a better time to commemorate the sacrifices that New Zealanders made on behalf of our great country, many who gave the ultimate sacrifice. In a sense we see once again a group of New Zealand people putting themselves in a position of risk to protect the lives of the wider community. The police, doctors and nurses, fire service, supermarket workers and all other essential workers that put on their uniform (PPE) and brave the world that we are in, to ensure that we all can be safe and well looked after. To those workers, this newsletter is as much for you as it is to remember those who gave their sacrifice in the years past. We thank you. We admire you. We would be lost without you.

Below, I have included in this my speech that Neill asked me to deliver in 2018.

Lest we forget, we will remember them.

Bruce Kearney

Courage, Compassion, Camaraderie, Commitment

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We will remember them

We will remember them.

Tihe mauri ora!

Let there be life!

Te papa i waho nei, tēnā koe

I greet the land outside

Te mana whenua o tēnei rohe, tēnā koutou

I greet the local people

Te hunga mate ki te hunga mate, haere haere haere

I pay tribute to our ancestors

Te hunga ora ki a tātou te hunga ora

I give thanks for those of us living

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa

Greetings to you all

I felt very humble when Neill Price asked me to speak at this commemoration. Commemorating one of the most significant times in the history of our world, 100 years after the event. Neill Price is a true taonga/treasure of our close knit community and I want to thank him for working so hard and giving so much, in order to make our community not only stronger, but to also instil a pride in who we are, and in those who have come before us. So thank you Neill.

My name is Bruce Kearney and I am the Principal of Kaiapoi High School. I am also a member of the Kaiapoi RSA and I served in the artillery with 32 E Battery. I know Neill wanted me to read a story or write of an event that happened, but it just did not sit well with me. When thinking about this speech, I looked out my window at work and I saw young people running, laughing, texting, working, enjoying life as much as they can. Some have good days….some not so good…and I wonder, how connected are these young people to events that took place 100 years ago? If I’m honest, I actually wonder how connected they are to events that took place…before the iPhone 6…. But more importantly why do we want them to feel connected to these commemorations? Why do we continue to use the phrase “lest we forget”?

Often during these speeches we hear the horrible stories of how awful life was in the trenches…how devastating war was for those involved, and for those at home. The 1914-18 slaughters, their geographical location so scarred into our historical conscience, are wounds that will not close. Ypres, Passchendaele, the Somme have a doom-like quality that have fully retained their semantic origins. The very name of the Somme has an assonance which still fills us with despair. Just as Passchendaele seems to include the very word "passion" in English, the Somme is like "sombre", the funeral mood of the graveyard.

"Lest we forget" is a caution against forgetting those who died in war. But equally it a caution against forgetting why they died in war. Almost 20,000 New Zealanders gave the ultimate sacrifice for a belief that they were protecting the freedom of those they left behind, and for the freedom of those who had already had their freedom taken away.

In Belfast there is a sad memento of the Somme, the work of a Northern Ireland Protestant railwayman who fought in the Ulster Division and spent some of his time in the trenches of the Western Front sticking newspaper clippings into his old railway notebook. Patriotic poetry and photographs of guns and armies and political cartoons of a brutal Kaiser threatening the virgin Belgium. His old book is falling to pieces now, its cover flaking off from the damp of those trenches long ago, its pages as fragile as old bone. But one article this distant soldier scissored from the paper stands out. It's a report on the execution of Nurse Edith Cavell, shot by a German firing squad in Brussels on 12 October 1915, for helping up to 200 Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium.

The report is remarkable for its lack of emotion, and records Cavell's last words, as they were recorded at the time. Four of her words are chiselled onto Cavell's monument near Trafalgar Square in London: "Patriotism is not enough." But these are merely a soundbite, the ‘text’ version of the truth and it appears that they forgot the most important words…the last 9.

Her thoughts written whilst waiting her execution:

I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me. I thank God for this 10 weeks' quiet. Life has always been hurried and full of difficulty. This time of rest has been a great mercy. They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.

So on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…100 years after the signing of a document that led to the ending of the Great War, which saw over 40 million casualties…I come back to Neill Price… A man who has given, and continues to give so much to his community, a man who has no hatred or bitterness to anyone… and so lest we forget… and I challenge you to commemorate and celebrate this day by doing the same…lest we forget…

Ma te aroha ka tutuki

Through care and concern…all things are possible