Minister's Update - April 2017

Image of field of poppies with Lest we forget written across it

Yesterday was ANZAC Day and, as I do every year, I joined veterans and members of the public at the dawn service in Papakura and other services throughout the day, to acknowledge and honour the courage and sacrifice of all those who bravely served our nation at Gallipoli and in subsequent conflicts.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remember and honour some of our ethnic communities’ contributions to the war effort, a contribution which, it has to be said, hasn’t been widely known.

So it is pleasing that the contribution of 55 New Zealand born Chinese who served with the NZ Expeditionary Force (NZEF) between 1914- 1919 was acknowledged last year in the second edition of Alastair Kennedy’s book Chinese ANZACs: Australians of Chinese Descent in the Defence Forces 1885- 1919. The book comprises essays on military history and individual biographies, and now includes a chapter on over 30 New Zealand born Chinese who enlisted with the NZEF in 1914-1919. Some of the Chinese families across New Zealand who had members serving with the ANZACs included the Mongs, Lo Keongs, Alloos and Sew Hoys from Dunedin and Appo Hocton’s family from Nelson. 

Another family I recently learnt about was the Sing family from Auckland – Private Herbert Stanley Sing, a signaller who served with the Auckland Infantry Regiment in the WW1 and his three brothers, Albert Victor, Robert Francis (Frank) and Arthur Percy who later joined him on the frontline. Herbert and Frank both served in Egypt and Gallipoli before heading to France where they were joined by Arthur and Albert. Tragically, Herbert was killed during the Battle of the Somme on 2 July 1916. The Sing family’s story is available on the Auckland Museum website.

I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of wider ethnic communities of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern origin who fought as part of the wider British Empire - Indian troops in particular fought alongside New Zealanders. India contributed the largest number of men with approximately 1.5 million recruited during the wars.

I think it is fantastic that we are starting to recognize these other stories and honour this important part of our history. It shows the maturity of our nation and tells me that the ANZAC spirit is alive and well.

Lest we forget.

Best wishes
Hon Judith Collins
Minister for Ethnic Communities