Friday, 15 April 2016

Volunteering for Anzac Day

Recently I read about the Student Volunteer Army’s idea to make Anzac Day a day for volunteering (it's called Serve for NZ: Anzac Dayand it made me think of the work of  the Friends of ANZAC Bridge and also NZ Pacific Studio.

When the main road was rerouted over the new bridge (and just as well, when you see the great trucks thundering past today) the old bridge fell into disrepair. Perhaps this had something to with the growth of anti-war sentiment through the 1960s and the Vietnam War, when Anzac Day services were fraught or largely ignored.

And it might have stayed like that, with the bridge slowly crumbling away. You can see how it looked in this photo taken by Glennis Austin in 2005.

But in 2006, the local community did something about it. They formed the Friends of ANZAC Bridge (FOAB), got funding, held working bees and restored the bridge, and they continue to look after it today, when it has become the focus of Anzac Day activities in the area and a much loved and valued structure.

In 2015, the FOAB won the Supreme Award in the Trustpower Tararua District Community Awards for their dedication to preserving the bridge  and this year representatives of the group travelled to Dunedin for the National Finals

"I understand the bridge is unique within New Zealand. We are lucky to have places to go in our country to serve and remember the men and women who died in wartime -- and we're even luckier to have folks like the Friends to help us hold on to those places."(Trustpower community relations representative Emily Beaton)

All this is a tribute to the power of community and the energy and dedication of volunteers. Something similar could be said for the work of NZ Pacific Studio, started by Kay Flavell with the dream of creating an artists’ residency. Since 2001, about 400 people have come here from around the country and around the world to work on their projects.

The house is full  of history (with the steepest staircase you've ever seen leading up to the loft) and it has become a “house joke” that anything and everything you would or could ever want is here somewhere. It’s crammed with books, tools, utensils, artists’ equipment, furniture and even a spinning wheel and loom. 

But it is a special feeling to walk through the front door and know that everyone here is immersed in their own artistic pursuits and often struggling with the same sorts of artistic problems. Someone made the comment to me that “everyone here is working on something new. Even if they are well established in their field, they have come here with a new project in mind.” Tracy Farr wrote a lovely post here ("time was on my side") about what her time at NZ Pacific Studio meant to her.  

Today there's a working bee here, again carried out by volunteers who are giving up a sunny weekend afternoon to devote some care and attention to the house and garden. So thank you all!!

No comments:

Post a Comment