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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli


The pioneer settlers of New Zealand left the Mother Country for many reasons, but primarily because they wished for a freer existence. They certainly did not choose an easy path for themselves. They could have settled in English-speaking countries comparatively near, but they deliberately left England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland for a land thirteen thousand miles away—a land covered with virgin forest and inhabited by a proud and warlike native race.

In communities that governed themselves according to their own advanced ideas, away from the baneful influence of large cities and the trammelling tendencies of hoary tradition, they wrestled with the giants of the bush, literally hewing out their homes in the wilderness. Not sparing themselves, they created a desirable and a healthy environment for their sons and daughters. Many had given up comfortable homes in the old lands so that their children and their children's children might have that freedom of life and thought and speech for which they themselves had been willing to make so many sacrifices.

Would it be natural, then, when Autocracy and Greed again threatened the free peoples of Europe, that a young nation born of the early settlers of New Zealand should stand aloof? A few weeks after the dreadful tragedy of Serajevo, realizing that the freedom of the world was again challenged, and recognizing to the full the gravity of the step, New Zealand placed all her resources at the disposal of the Mother Land.

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The martial instincts of Maori and Pakeha were at once aroused. In the town enthusiasm was infectious; newspaper offices were besieged, and eager volunteers thronged the headquarters of each territorial unit; every shop, office and factory sent its representatives, and before the services of the Expeditionary Force were accepted by the Imperial Government the lists were full to overflowing.

From the country men crowded in. The musterer and station owner alike forsook their flocks; the bushman put away his crosscut and axe; the flaxmill hand left swamp and mill and hurried to the nearest railway station. Quiet men up on the hillside watched the train coming across country with the eagerly awaited newspapers. The strain of waiting was unendurable. With the call of Old England throbbing in their ears, they left their stock unattended in the paddocks and swelled the procession to the railway station. Here eager crowds discussed the situation. It was instinctively recognised that Britain must stand by France and Belgium, and when the news of that momentous decision did come the great wave of enthusiasm swept anew over the country side.