Icons of home

Icons of home

During the First World War, the identity of New Zealand soldiers began to emerge, which was different from that of the British and the Australians. They had a reputation for being hard-working, egalitarian, friendly, and brave, and they started to be known as the Kiwis. 

Greetings from Sling Camp by Leonard Harrington-Hutchings,1916.Greetings from Sling Camp by Leonard Harrington-Hutchings,1916. Alexander Turnbull Library. Eph-A-WAR-WI-1916-01.

Context

This card may have been sent by soldiers who were staying at Sling Camp, a New Zealand military camp in England that was used throughout the war. The inside box shows a soldier in uniform in front of a low stone fence with the camp and the open spaces near Salisbury in the background. This contrasts with the New Zealand landscape surrounding the inner box, with a kiwi, a ponga, harakeke (flax), tī kōuka (cabbage trees), and toetoe. 

During the First World War, the identity of New Zealand soldiers began to emerge, which was different from that of the British and the Australians. They had a reputation for being hard-working, egalitarian, friendly, and brave, and they started to be known as the Kiwis. The lemon-squeezer hat that the soldier in the picture is holding was designed to be shaped like the outline of Mt Taranaki to allow rain to run off. To keep the shape, some soldiers would urinate on it and use clothes pegs to make the creases. The hat has been a New Zealand icon since the war. 

Sling Camp was the biggest New Zealand camp in England, but it was not a popular place to be. Many soldiers went there soon after arriving in England and immediately started very strict training to fight in the trenches. In 1918, when the soldiers were in the camp waiting to be transported home, they dug a shape of a giant kiwi into nearby Beacon Hill, and the kiwi is still there today. 

Key questions 

What can we observe? 

What do we already know? 

How might people view this card in different ways? 

 

Possible discussion questions 

Do you send Christmas cards? What are the pictures on them? How is this card different to one you might send? 

Who do you think might have made this card? Who would have sent it? Who might they have sent it to? 

What can you see in the picture that is about New Zealand? 

Do you have a uniform for school, for a club, or for another group? How does a uniform help your school or group? How is your uniform different to uniforms for other schools or groups? 

What is special about a kiwi? Why do you think the word Kiwi is used to describe people from New Zealand? 

What kinds of things do you suppose the soldiers had to learn at Sling Camp? 

What other things can you remember that are unique to New Zealand? 

New Zealanders often discuss changing our flag. What icons do you think represent New Zealand now that could be used for a new flag?

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