Anzac Day: Making memories

Anzac Day is a time for children to learn about the sacrifices of past generations. Diana Clement looks at what's on offer for families around Auckland this year.

Children can learn about Anzac Day in the war exhibitions at Auckland's War Memorial Museum. Photo / Supplied
Children can learn about Anzac Day in the war exhibitions at Auckland's War Memorial Museum. Photo / Supplied

This Monday my children and thousands of others around the country will join an Anzac Day parade to remember soldiers from past generations.

There was a near mutiny in my household when I suggested we leave early on Monday for a day out of town. The kids, a girl guide and a cub weren't having a bar of missing the local parade and service. There were Anzac Day badges and patches in the offing, which were far more important than the trifling matter getting away for the day.

Kids love learning about the "olden days". And real-life events such as Anzac Day parades really bring home to them the sacrifices of previous generations.

The place to be on Anzac Day morning is, without a doubt, the Auckland Museum. As always, there will be a dawn parade. This year there are also several exhibitions and activities for adults and children alike, including Mr Jones' Wives which tells the tale of the thousands of war brides our troops brought back to New Zealand during and after World War II.

For the children, there's Unaccompanied Minors: Suitcases, Seasickness & Citizenship, which gives them a taste of what children who left home alone and travelled by boat halfway across the world to New Zealand experienced.

Children collect their unaccompanied minor tickets, say goodbye to their parents, and climb the wooden gangway to their ship to experience travelling from England under the kindly care of Nanny Gilbert. On the real ships, adults were paid to be guardians for up to six unaccompanied children on the journey.

Once on the "ship", children need to decide what to take and what to leave behind on their epic journey to their new home in Aotearoa. Each child dons a lifejacket and is given a suitcase and several items including toy cars, pyjamas, a photo of their family, and other items to choose from - but they can't take everything.

Once on board the "ship" the children get to play old-fashioned games such as marbles, skipping, tiddlywinks and pick-up sticks to while away the two months they spend getting from Europe to New Zealand.

Along the way the children get lessons in New Zealand English, learning the meaning of Kiwi-isms such as "dob in", "throw a wobbly", "stoked", "bust a gut" and more. They have to match these words with equivalent phrases from the British English they would have used at home.

The experience takes 40 minutes and Nanny Gilbert then walks them down the gangplank in Auckland and returns them to their parents.

Of course, it is called the Auckland War Memorial Museum, so there are plenty of other exhibitions and permanent features children can explore, as they learn about our country's wars and soldiers.

At the Armoury on the third floor, they can see the museum's extensive display of weapons, medals and decorations; they can learn about the defining atrocity of World War II in the Holocaust Gallery; and the Zero, Spitfire and other permanent war exhibitions are a constant reminder of the sacrifices others have made.

Outside the museum, children have many other opportunities to learn about the significance of April 25.

Girl guides and cubs, like my children, learn an awful lot about Anzac Day, says Bobbi Oliver, national marketing co-ordinator for GirlGuiding New Zealand.They do so through activities such as making poppies or posies, cleaning graveyards and visiting war veterans' homes.

Most children also learn about Anzac Day in school. Parades and exhibitions help flesh out their understanding. Two other Auckland Museum holiday activities aimed at the children are:

* What Makes Me "Me"? which encourages children to think about where they come from, who their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are, and their nationality It also involves filling out a basic family tree. Weekdays 10am to 12pm and 1.30pm to 3pm.

* Remembrance: This child-focused exhibition in the Weird & Wonderful gallery teaches children about camaraderie and loyalty in wartime; 10.30am-12pm and 1.30pm-3pm, daily until May 2. Gold coin donation.

CITY WIDE SERVICES:

You don't need to travel far to find an Anzac Day service in Auckland. They're everywhere.

Nor do you need to drag the kids out of bed at 5am. Many of the services start mid- to late-morning - at Piha, the Lion Rock service is at 2pm.

You can also plan going to an Anzac Day parade around a day out in another part of town. Here are some of the services in Auckland:

Piha - Lion Rock, 2pm, parade 1.45pm marching from Piha RSA Beach Valley to Marine Parade, finish at Lion Rock.

Waikumete Cemetery Cenotaph 11am, cnr Great North and Glenview Rds, Glen Eden.

Laingholm Community Parade and Service - 10.30am, Laingholm Hall, Victory Rd, Laingholm.

Beachlands Civic Service 9.30am, parade 9.15am, 59 Third View Ave, Beachlands

Mangere War Memorial Hall, 10am, parade 9.45am Coronation Rd to War Memorial Hall, Domain Rd.

Devonport Parade and Service, 10am, War Memorial, Marine Sq, Devonport, parade 9.50am.

Wellsford Dawn Parade and Service, 5.45am, Wellsford Memorial Domain gates.

Orakei RSA Parade and Service, 10.30am, Orakei RSA, 178 Kepa Rd, parade 10.20am.

Newmarket Parade and Service, 10am, Olympic Park, Broadway, parade 9.45am.

Waiheke Island Parade and Civic Service, 11.05am, Waiheke War Memorial Hall, parade 10.58am.

* For a full list click here.

REAL-LIFE WAR

North Head gun emplacement and underground bunkers, Devonport, access Takarunga Rd.

Te Atatu gun emplacements, Harbourview/Orangihina Park, Te Atatu.

Motutapu gun emplacements, access by Rangitoto ferry or private boat only.

Kennedy Park, Beach Rd, Castor Bay.

Howick Beach gun emplacements, Uxbridge Rd, Howick.

Fort Stony Batter, Waiheke Island, access Stonybatter Rd, off Man O' War Bay Rd.

- NZ Herald

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