The battle of the red and white poppies in Kapiti
By Alan Tristram
Two Kapiti Coast personalities have ignited an Anzac conflict of their own as Anzac Day approaches.
Former local politician and Paraparaumu Vice-President Chris Turver espouses the traditional view of Anzac Day and the sale of red poppies to help ex-service people and their families.
But former Presbyterian Church moderator
John Murray is spearheading a local campaign tomorrow stressing the urgent need
to prevent war, and the need to commemorate civilian casualties. His group sells white poppies to fund peace scholarships.
Mr Turver says Mr Murray’s peace group is deliberately piggy-backing on Anzac Day and it is ‘contemptible to deliberately choose a collection date which undermines the sacrifices of so many New Zealanders.’
Mr Turver says: “It is another attempt to undermine the purpose of the RSA’s red poppy appeal, just days before New Zealanders commemorate the sacrifice of 32,700 men and women killed in action since the Boer War.”
The White Poppy pacifist group sparked strong opposition from the RSA four years ago when it tried to sell white poppies the day before Anzac Day.
Turver said it was “contemptible to deliberately choose a collection date which undermines the sacrifices of so many New Zealanders who gave their lives to preserve the right of groups just like this to have their say.”
The annual red poppy appeal maintains funding to care for returned servicemen and their families, while the white poppy appeal will raise money in Kapiti and Horowhenua tomorrow for its White Poppy Peace Scholarships for tertiary students.
John Murray’s view
In a release for KIN, John Murray says:
‘Robert Fisk’s commentaries may not please all readers but out of his incisive experience he raises some fundamental questions.
Last November he wrote in The Independent on this subject “The [red] poppy helps us avoid a search for the meaning of war,.
He quotes the words of the poet who wrote
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow”
and “if ye break faith with us who die,
we shall not sleep, tho’ poppies grow
in Flanders field”
To this he adds the comment …. ‘the [red] poppies were there to remind us of our duty to kill more human beings.’
That is why a group of us have changed our colours from red to white, for peace not war.
This is not new. It goes back to Dick Sheppard of St Paul’s [London] and the Women’s Cooperative Guild of the 1930s.
The white poppy shows remembrance not only of our own Anzac armed forces but of all victims of war, soldiers and civilians, men and women and children, friend and foe. It is a commitment that war must not be allowed to happen again.
What a chill irony to remember that only a few years later, the world was nearly consumed in a second global conflagration.
So we offer a white poppy for peace to remind ourselves that the only meaning in war is that ‘peace should prevail on the earth.’ This we do to answer our Government’s enthusiasm and generous expenditure of millions of dollars to mark and celebrate the WW1 centenary.
That is why on Tuesday 22 April – a day set aside nationally for this – white poppies will be available for sale on the Kapiti Coast.
All the money given will go to expand the programme of tertiary Peace Scholarships for young New Zealanders.
Some people will still wear the red poppy, which Fisk describes as ‘[the] remembrance of this monstrous crime against humanity.’
The red has still got a sort of social sanctity about it. Some may add the white to the red because they are not sure. what it all means.
Some of us will wear the white ‘lest we forget’ that war and its devastation of life has no meaning unless it leads to peace.’