Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Art work from George Edmond Butler also in Passchendaele

For the first time in Flanders, the art work of George Edmond Butler will be on display in the Memorial Museum Passhendaele 1917 together with the art work of Helen Pollock. The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 is very greatful to the New Zealand National Archives who give full cooperation to bring his work to Belgium.
George Edmund Butler was a landscape and portrait painter specialising in oils and watercolours, and an Official War Artist for New Zealand during World War One.
Born 15 January 1872 in Southampton, England, George Edmund Butler emigrated to Wellington in 1883 with his parents. Between 1898 and 1900 Butler undertook further study abroad in England, in Paris, and the Antwerp Academy in Belgium.
In 1900 Butler returned to Wellington and exhibited also in Christchurch. In 1901 he settled in Dunedin but trying to make a living as a professional artist was difficult. In 1905 he returned to England. Because of his reputation as an artist and his New Zealand connections he was approached to be an official NZ war artist. He was appointed with the honorary rank of captain by the NZEF in September 1918. Joining the New Zealand Division in France later that same month, he carried a sketchbook in which he made pencil drawings of actual operations and war scenes, often under fire. These sketches were later used as the basis for his paintings. After the Armistice he returned to sketch all the New Zealand battlefields in Belgium and France. Butler completed a large number of paintings and drawings during this period.
After being demobilised on 31 December 1918, Butler was privately commissioned by Colonel R. Heaton Rhodes (Cabinet Minister) and Major General Sir Andrew Russell (NZ Divisional Commander) to do a further series of senior officer portraits and a number of large landscapes of NZ exploits on the western front. These works were finally purchased by the NZ Government in September 1921.
Butler never returned to New Zealand. He died in London on 9 August 1936.
It has been said that Butler’s war paintings capture the realities of war through a civilian’s eyes, mirroring the view of the New Zealand citizen soldier. There is no glory, only the stark depiction of waste and loss. They are an evocative indictment of war that have remained largely unseen by the. They give also an unknown view in color of places well known in the history of the New Zealand Division in Flanders where only few pictures have been token.
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Monday, 16 March 2009

LtCol George King killed in Passchendaele 12/10/1917

This is the grave of Lt Col King with poppies around and a note from his daughter Nan.

On this picture you see his granddaughter at the opening of the exhibition with his picture, his binoculars and the teddy her mother is keeping now for more then 90 years.

Maria and Mark are hosted in Christchurch

Maria and Mark have been hosted by Jo Kane, Lieve and Kevin. Maria is the president of the council in Zonnebeke. Lieve is Belgian and living with her husband Gavin in New Zealand. Around the table is also Michael Petterson, patron of the Waimakariri-Zonnebeke trust.

Waiouru Army Museum

Visit to Wairarapa (Featherston)

snapshots from Wellington - opening

Saturday, 14 March 2009

LtCol George King will be remembered....

On this trench map of WWI the spot is situated where Lt. Col. King has been killed during the attack on Bellevue Spur in the Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917.

Click on the map and you will see it in your browser.

Belgium delegation has split today

14 March was the day the delegation had to split. Franky is going back to Belgium. Maria, Sabine and Mark are staying for a holiday on the South Island.

Deputy Governor Gunter Pertry is staying some days in New Zealand before heading for China. He went to Christchurch with Jo Kane for a quick visit in the Canterbury region. They met our Belgian Consul Guy Faes and the Mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker at the inaugural Ellislie flower show in Hagley Park. He visited also Canterbury Museum, the Art centre, the new Art gallery and had a look through the exhibition venue Our City o Tautahi. He also met the CEO of Environment Canterbury (Regional Council) Dr Brian Jenkins and his wife Janet and also the Chairman of the Canterbury Regional Council Sir Kerry Burke and Famiah Lady Burke. It was a short but very interesting visit for the deputy governor in Christchurch.

As you know, the delegation spent the previous day in Featherston (Wairarapa District -, another fantastic day with Mayor Staples leading the delegation through the Heritage Museum ,the railway story and the Anzac hall, also a venue for our exhibition followed by the delegation laying a wreath at the garden of remembrance. Then onto the Alana Estate Winery for a magnificent luncheon. A tasting afterwards and then back to Wellington.
It had been quiet a stormy day in Wellington , so they headed up to Mount Victoria for a 360 scenic view of Wellington and a tour around the rugged bays which because of the stormy seas the delegation insisted on getting up close . They walked over the rocks to watch huge rolling waves pond the rocky shoreline. A very invigorating wild and awesome sight. Late back to the hotel , a quick change and then down town for the last dinner together , which Jo Kane introduced them to Seafood Chowder (soup with fresh fish). Once again good New Zealand food, good wines and of course good company.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Opening exhibition was a big succes

The opening in Wellington was a big succes. The choir from Chilton St James was fantastic! You can see them on this picture performing in 2007 at Tyne Cot Cemetery during the visit of H.M. Queen Elisabeth II and H.M. the Belgian Queen Paola . Nan Simcox was not well and so here daughter Patty came. She brought the teddy, binoculars and photo which created a lot of interest at the reception after the opening. About 100 VIP were at the opening. The New Zealand Minister of Arts and Culture opened the exhibition together with the Belgian Ambassador. It was a long and busy day for the delegation. They would have an early morning start on 13 March because they are heading for Wairarapa District. It's there, in Featherston that they would be welcomed by Mayor Staples. I had a phone call with them when they were having a coffee stop before the wreath laying at the Featherstone Camp Memorial. I'm sure they will have a very nice lunch with their hosts on a fine winery with the very best wines of Martinborough, New Zealand’s top Pinot Noir producers.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Official opening on 12 March in Wellington

Today, the exhibition has been officially opened by the Belgium Ambassador H.E. Frank Carruet. The Belgium embassy is hosting the function and is a very important partner of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. Since a couple of years , the embassy is working together to establish a good relationship between our two countries. They were the first to start the twinning between Waimakariri and Zonnebeke. They also played an important role to establish the shared memory agreement between New Zealand and Belgium.
You find an atricle about the opening on

We will bring more news later. The function is still going on in New Zeland because they are 12 hours ahead.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

From Auckland to Wellington

Monday evening dinner in Auckland was superb, fresh fish for all, margaritas for Jo. The delegation then went up to the Auckland museum for a night time view of the city.
The hotel accommodation was excellent with lovely rooms and views of the city.
The rental van is also the right size because of the amount of baggage they all carry.
Early Tuesday,after a brown paper bag of breakfast consisting of very good pies and hot coffee (typical Kiwi breakfast) they set off for Rotorua on time! The trip through the country side punctured with photo stops. They arrived in Rotorua on time for a tour of Te Puni, the geyser was at it s best, boiling mud, wonderful bush, they saw a real kiwi and the Maori concert was very very good. When they sang Pokare kare ana some of the delegation were in heaven. Then they set off for Waiouru, stopping off at the wonderful Huka falls, this is a magnificent natural hydro system with the amazing power of the water gushing through rocks...
The lunch was at lake Taupo before going to Waiouru over the Desert Road.
They arrived only 6 minuted late for Waiouru...not bad considering the delegation always wanted to stop for photos and.....the weather had changed , it was now cold and wet and . The group was met by Sergeant Peach and settled into the officers mess.
Dinner was with Waiouru Camp Commander Roger MacIwaithe. A lovely formal meal with very good New Zealand wines.
Up early meet by Staff Sergeant Don who accompanied the group to breakfast. Great breakfast, packed and on time down to the Army Museum.
Surprise surprise meet by Chris Pugsley and his wife. He was in New Zealand holidaying and doing some filming for Maori TV. Professor Chris Pugsley is a friend of our Museum, he's a historian at Sandhurst and has written many books about New zealands involvement in WWI.
Th group could now visit the Army Museum. Colonel Ray Seymour and Windsor Jones, the curator welcomed the delegation for morning tea and Dep. Governor Gunter Pertry spoke and gifts were exchanged.
They left on time... stood at various scenic spots including the Rangitata golf club , where they allowed them to travel with there unique elevator down the terrace to get some shots of the river. After a sanitary stop at Otaki beach they finally arrived in windy Wellington.
Dinner was at the Belgian Beer Café , all had mussels although some had them grilled instead of a one kilo pot.
They will have a very busy schedule tomorrow but all is on track.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Auckland City

The delegation went over to Devenport where Helen Pollock escorted them around yesterday morning. Then all off to North Head, then Fort Takapuna for a visit and tour and then the stunning part of the day! A wonderful Mayoral reception at North Shore City...the Mayor and his councillors were very receptive to the proposal about the exhibition and they had their whole communication team in tow. They are excited about the whole project and it fits well with their heritage week starting 2 October. Fort Takapuna will be the place of the exhibition in Auckland. Fort Takapuna has an interesting link with World War I because in this time the nucleus of a camp was built at Fort Takapuna, as a training area for Maori and Cook Island reinforcements.
In 1918 the camp accommodated German prisoners of war and in 1919 was used as a hospital for flu victims. Hon Consul Iain McKenzie did a great part of the work to bring us in contact with all those involved in Auckland region, he has already put a tremendous amount of work into this. The delegation was invited for a dinner at the New Lynn Returned Service Association (RSA). MMP1917 curator, Franky Bostyn was giving a lecture in precence of Aucklands RSA President. They had a guided tour through the Auckland War Memorial the day before. In the mean time a film crew from Shanghai(China) is filming in the National War memorial in Wellington..millions and millions of Chinese will get to see the exhibition.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Belgium delegation arrived in Auckland

The Belgium delegation from Zonnebeke arrived on Sunday 8/3/2009 in Auckland. Maria Vander Meiren, chairperson of the community council in Zonnebeke and her husband, accompanied by Alderman Sabine Vanderhaeghen are since Sunday in Auckland. From Auckland they will start a tour on the Northern Island in New Zealand, visiting Waiouru, Featherston and Wellington, before attending the official opening of the exhibition on 12/03/2009 in the Hall of Memories in Wellington. Jo Kane, chairperson of the Waimakariri trust will guide them during this trip. Franky Bostyn, curator of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele and Gunter Pertry, Deputy Governor of West Flanders are also part of this delegation.
The purpose of this tour is to visit the venues of the exhibitions. They will also bring honour to the men who came more then 90 years ago to Belgium. There will be some remembrance ceremonies in the different places.
H. E. Frank Carruet, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium, will join the delegation in Wellington and H.E. Carruet will officially open the exhibition on 12/03/2009.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

LtCol George King will be remembered....

Lieutenant-Colonel George Augustus King , husband of Annie Letitia King, of 27, Fairview Crescent, Kelburn, Wellington, New Zealand , served in Egypt and Gallipoli, native of Christchurch was killed in action at the age of 32 year when a shell from the supporting barrage exploded at the Ravebeek in Passchendaele at 5.40 am on 12 October 1917 .
He was Commanding Officer (CO) of the 1st Canterbury Battalion. He was former CO of the Maori Pioneer Battalion. His body was recovered by the Maori Pioneers, who buried him behind the frontline.
His daughter Nan, is at the age of 95 years still remembering her father very well and she keeps his memory alive. Some personal belongings of her father are kept as a real treasure in the family. On the picture she is holding her teddy bear - a gift from LtCol King - with the ribbon of his dog tag around the neck and his binoculars. On the floor his photograph with his medals. Nan herself was a nurse during WWII. She is one of some few surviving children of WWI soldiers who have been killed during the Great War.

Exhibition ready to open in Wellington

Here you can see some images about the set up of the exhibition in the Hall of Memories