Otaki’s Heritage Bank Museum’s Otaki Remembers World War 1 exhibition now includes a small, unique exhibition of photographs Canakkale — Road to Peace out of War, photos taken by Turkey’s soldiers in the trenches and on the battle fields of Gallipoli.
“It is a great honour to have the opening exhibition here in Otaki,” Museum Trust president, Kerry Hoggard said at the launch of the display of the 29 photographs, attended by Turkish ambassador, Damla Yesmin Say.
“These pictures are showing that the human dimensions of the war had the same impact on everybody, for every soldier. Turkish soldiers had mothers, loved ones, sweet hearts, they had broken hearts. All the human emotions, they had too,” she said. “New Zealand and Turkey have certainly set an example for the whole world on how to forge a unique friendship out of painful memories.”
Su’a William Sio, chair of the New Zealand parliamentary friendship group for Turkey, acknowledged the suffering of the Turkish people during the Gallipoli battles and the years afterwards. “I acknowledge the people of Turkey carry deep wounds and mental scars today, borne of that period 100 years ago,” he said. “Yet despite your significant losses and your suffering the people Turkey continue to open your arms of brotherhood and sisterhood to New Zealand and Australia.
“You continue to look after the grave sites of allied soldiers who are buried on your soils as if they were your own sons.”
Kapiti Mayor Ross Church said “this exhibition brings home to all of us, that in fact we can come from out of sadness, we can move forward from the horror of war and we can become firm friends.”
Among the exhibits were WWI memorabilia from the Gallipoli battles, owned by Otaki military collector Fred Houghton; a Turkish flag in a display case was “accompanied” by a collection of stones from Anzac Cove and a sword from a Turkish soldier. Mr Houghton then opened a box he held and brought out two very realistic snakes to show Yesim Say. These beaded snakes were handmade by Turk prisoners of war, each had worked in beads along its side Turk prisoner 1917. Thy were made by prisoners and flogged off to make money,” Mr Houghton said.
The exhibition which opened on June 5 is the first time the exhibition has been shown in New Zealand. It will remain in Otaki until June 27 before touring to several RSA’s around the country and at Archives NZ.