“Warm Socks from Warm Hearts”

“Warm Socks from Warm Hearts”

Students understand how belonging to groups is important for people and that people have different roles and responsibilities as part of their participation in groups. 

Gift label and message, 1915.

Gift label and message, 1915. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. GH007347.

Context 

This is a picture of a card that was sent to soldiers overseas. Parcels with this card would also have contained things like socks, baking, books, and tobacco. The reminders of a warm New Zealand and of people who cared about them would have been quite moving to the soldiers overseas. 

Well-known women like Lady Liverpool, the Governor’s wife, and Mīria Pōmare (Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki) worked hard to make people aware of the need for socks and to help women and children to make them. They organised groups, provided patterns or wool, and raised funds. In six months, they knitted about 30,000 pairs of socks, and apparently Mrs Pōmare alone knitted enough socks for every soldier in the Māori Pioneer Battalion. Socks were very important to keep soldiers’ feet warm and protect them from trench foot, a condition caused by feet being cold and wet for long periods. Soldiers would sometimes wear out a pair of socks in a fortnight! Volunteering in this way gave women who couldn’t go overseas a way to contribute to New Zealand’s war effort. 

The flags on the card are those of New Zealand, Britain, and France, three countries that were part of the Allied forces. 

Key questions 

What can we observe? 

What do we already know? 

How might people view this poem in different ways? 

 

Possible discussion questions 

In this card, what are the special things about New Zealand that might remind a soldier of home? Why might they have appreciated being reminded of home? 

Why do you think the New Zealand, British, and French flags were included on the card? What other countries were part of the Allies? What do you know about the Allies? 

What do socks do for us? What happens when you don’t wear socks with shoes in winter? What happens if your feet get cold and muddy? Why would woollen socks have been good? 

Why do you think soldiers used so many socks? What other things might soldiers have needed? 

Who made socks for the soldiers? How was knitting socks part of helping the war effort? What else could women do to help their people overseas at the war? 

The sock knitters were volunteers. What is a volunteer? How can we volunteer today? How does volunteering today help others? How does volunteering give people a feeling of self-worth?

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