Topic: Arts

Exhibition highlights leaders who opposed World War One

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  • Wellington

An exhibition unlike any of its kind was launched today and tells the stories of the opposition to the First World War in New Zealand and the soldiers, iwi, religious groups and politicians that spoke out against it.

Creator of Dissent James McLean says “People have commemorated 100 years of the war, there's been a lot about the military history and so on but maybe not quite as much about some of the people who didn't think it was a good idea. Those are pretty important opinions and we need to acknowledge them.”

The exhibition named 'Dissent' highlights the courage of the people and groups, including Māori that opposed the First World War and were imprisoned because of it.

Māori Historian at Te Kawa ā Maui at Victoria University Peter Adds says, “Your average conscientious objector probably did it for a variety of reasons including religious reasons. Some of them were simply pacifists but there was also in Māori communities an organized resistance movement against participation in the first world war.”

McLean says, “the exhibition shows just how powerful the crown forces were against the people who would stand up against the war.”

“We just wanted to give people a snapshot of all the different voices that were opposing the war and to bring together the people of the conscientious objectors which are quite well known in the Pākehā world and also in the Māori iwi and leaders objected to the war.”

The exhibition will run until October 2017.