A new era in New Zealand’s digital history begins today with the launch of www.VietnamWar.govt.nz, asking people to share their stories, experiences and memorabilia of the Vietnam War.
Developed by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the site allows a wide variety and large number of people to be part of the project – veterans, their families, protestors and other New Zealanders affected by this unpopular war.
The personal contributions will lead to the development of educational and other historical material on New Zealand’s involvement in Vietnam.
www.VietnamWar.govt.nz is the digital history component of a government-funded four-year project to record the stories of New Zealand’s Vietnam War veterans and their families. An oral history project is also underway, gathering lengthy interviews from veterans around the country.
Paul Diamond, Oral Historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and leader of the Vietnam Oral History project, says it is the combination of digital and oral history that makes this project so innovative.
“By collecting both formal oral histories and allowing the public to contribute their own stories to the website we are giving as many New Zealanders as possible the opportunity to be part of the story,” Paul Diamond says.
Modelled on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website, www.VietnamWar.govt.nz enables people to contribute to and browse Vietnam memories as well as search through comprehensive resources.
Contributions can be memories, photos, audio or videos. There are already some startling memoirs and stirring photos on the site depicting every angle of warfare - aerial images of Nui Dat; New Zealand soldiers leading Viet Cong prisoners; Army, Navy and Airforce servicemen holding their puppy mascots to the infamous “F U bird” noisy lizard.
The histories are part of the government’s 2006 package of measures for Vietnam veterans and their families which also include monetary payments and a welcome-home ceremony.
3,890 New Zealanders served in Vietnam; 37 were killed and 187 wounded. 35 years since the last service personnel returned home, the war is ‘not over’ in a personal or public sense for many Veterans.
Tribute 08 this Queen’s Birthday weekend will continue the process of remembering and understanding Vietnam for veterans, families and all New Zealanders.
www.VietnamWar.govt.nz goes a long way to ensuring these histories endure.
Updated on 23rd July 2015