Sunday, May 18, 2014

A new book

Best Mates 
By Philippa Werry and Bob Kerr 
Published by New Holland Publishers
I visited Gallipoli some years ago. I couldn’t afford to take the commercial tours so I would catch the local bus to Kabatepe and then walk for an hour down the beach to Anzac Cove. I would walk back at the end of the day expecting to meet the bus but I never did catch the bus because I would be invited to dinner by one of the Turkish families that would be picnicking under the pine trees along the coast. 

They would ask me where I was from and I would say New Zealand and that I had been looking at the place where the New Zealanders landed in 1915. I would ask my hosts why they were so kindly disposed to New Zealanders since we had tried to invade their country. They invariably suggested that we had picked a rather bad place to land because the young commander on the top of the hill was Kemal Ataturk and that we helped create his reputation and therefore helped create modern Turkey and my hosts would add but that was a long time ago and would I like another slice of baklava.

It is the same generosity that Ataturk voiced when he said the much quoted words that are on the Ataturk memorial on the south coast at Karehana Bay here in Wellington.
“Your sons are now our sons, having lost their lives in this land.” It seems amazingly generous since twice as many Turkish soldiers died defending their home than the invaders did.

When the text for this book arrived in my inbox one Friday I sent a reply straight back to the publishers New Holland saying I was too busy and would not be able to do it. Over the weekend I showed it to my daughter Kathleen. She read it, took her glasses of, wiped her eye and told me to do it. I’m glad she did. It has been great working with the team at New Holland Publishers and it’s been great working with Philippa. You can visit Philippa's website and see all the other excellent books she has written at

Here are some pages from the book.

Number One Field Punishment at the Tauranga Art Gallery

The characters in Best Mates dashed off to the first World War without giving much thought to what they would encounter. Mark Briggs and Archibald Baxter gave it a lot of thought and refused to go. They were sent to prison and then, along with fourteen other conscientious objectors were taken to the frontline in France where Baxter, Briggs and Lawrence Kirwan were administered Number One Field Punishment in an attempt by the New Zealand Government to persuade them to put on the kings uniform.
This exhibition at the Tauranga Art Gallery includes some paintings from earlier shows on this topic and a major new work A long Row of Stout High Poles. Musician Andrew Laking has composed a sound scape that plays in the gallery with the paintings. To find out more about Andy and his music visit his website a t

Here are some images from the show. Viewers are invited to walk along the wooden duckwalk to view the large painting. The text running along the top of the seven panels is a quote from Baxter's book We Will Not Cease. It reads: "Walking along the duckwalk from the gate I observed a long row of stout high poles. These poles were for the infliction of number one field punishment."

Lippy Pictures film Number One Field Punishment recently aired on TV One. You can watch this brilliant dramatization here.