Saturday, April 24, 2010

Anzac Day

The 25th of April is a day when New Zealanders remember the landings at Gallipoli in 1915, and their tragic aftermath. To quote from an official New Zealand Anzac web site,
On this day the people of New Zealand have acknowledged the sacrifice of all those who have died in warfare, and the contribution and suffering of all those who have served.
There are dawn services, often held at war memorials. When I was a child, many veterans of World War 1 marched in the parade (in fact I lived near a veteran of the Boer War, a man who lived to be 100). Now all our WW1 soldiers have passed on, and the survivors of WW2 are elderly. My father-in-law was one of the WW2 veterans; he died late last year, aged 89.

Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac Day is formally recognised in Australia, New Zealand, and Tonga. There are also ceremonies to mark the day in many other countries, including Britain, Canada and the United States. And at Gallipoli itself, every year the day is marked by a dawn service attended by thousands.

I've been fortunate enough to visit Gallipoli, though not on Anzac Day. I'm glad to have had the chance to contemplate this place in silence.

Information on Anzac Day in New Zealand.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cover story

When I decided I wanted new covers for the three books that make up the "Promises to Keep" series, I spent quite some time trawling through old photographs, looking for an illustration that felt right for my books' setting. I finally found it much closer to home.

This is a small patch of our own native forest. The fronds on the left are from a nikau, New Zealand's only native palm species. The distinctive, spiky-leaved tree with its head just to the right of "Marriage" is a tī kōuka or "cabbage tree". Despite the name, it's a woody plant rather than a true tree, somewhat related to lilies.

The tallest trees in the photograph are mostly rimu and totara, species that were felled for timber before they became too scarce to harvest.

The forest around Amy's home would have looked quite similar to this.