by Don Franks
The government is set to mark the 2015 centenary of Gallipoli with a flash new $80 million dollar construction.Prime Minister John Key announced the project at the National War Memorial today, alongside the Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister, Veterans’ Affairs Minister and Green Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown. The previous Labour government originally planned the park and local Labour MP Grant Robertson has been agitating for its early completion.The new National War Memorial Park will combine existing memorial precincts, including the Hall of Memories, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National Carillion.These are currently divided by State Highway 1 and will be brought together in the park by undergrounding the state highway on Buckle Street between Tory and Taranaki Streets in Wellington.
The Labour/National park extension is based on an elaborate political lie.
John Key claims that the initiative “. . . will be an enduring reminder to our children and their children, so they can better understand our past.”
In military terms, “Our past” is one of shooting Maori to steal their land, supporting the armed struggle of British and American capitalism to dominate the globe and, more recently, supporting the advance of New Zealand capitalist interests in the Pacific.
Indelible facts, none of which, I venture, will be cut in stone anywhere near John and Grant’s new war park.
Instead, the place will sit as an enduring reminder of the Tennysonian ruling class injunction, “Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die”. A distant echo from the Crimean war, but rulers demands for our unthinking political obedience remain as strong today.
Politically, the new park will serve as a platform to legitimise and launch future capitalist wars in which young workers will die.
War propaganda purposes aside, Wellington doesn’t need another park. Public parks in the capital are plentiful and well maintained. If $80 million really is rolling around needing to be spent on something, there are other options.
For example, in March this year, the Wellington City council estimated 200 homeless people in Wellington city, a hundred up from last year. Aro Valley Community Council member Barry Thomas reported “a dramatic increase in people sleeping in parks and garages, arriving at the community centre poor, hungry, dirty, tired, without a place to sleep”. This increase is put down to continuing high unemployment and low wages.
If the powers that be have $80 million to toss about they could build and staff a pretty good functioning hostel for the homeless victims of capitalism. Or, for that matter, the $80 million could be taken, in cash notes, up to the top of Mount Victoria and tossed into the wind, to be enjoyed by whoever chanced to pick them up.
Silly? No sillier than funding the perpetuation of a monstrous historical lie.
Further reading: Gallipoli invasion – a dirty and bloody business