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Home fires burning - New Zealand's Vietnam War

News: 19 April 2012

Home Fires Burning is an exhibition exploring New Zealand’s involvement in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1972, and the war’s ongoing impact within families and communities.

 Opening this Saturday at the Papakura Museum, Home Fires Burning marks the end of a four-year oral history and digital archiving project run by Manatu Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Since 2008, 150 veteran and family oral histories have been recorded for deposit in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Many personal collections of Vietnam War-era film, photography, art and writing have also been offered for archiving.

 A partnership between the Papakura Museum and Manatū Taonga, Home Fires Burning places artefacts from local veterans and collectors alongside the personal stories of those who served – and those keeping the home fires burning back in New Zealand.

 ManatuTaonga oral historian Claire Hall says the exhibition brings much previously unseen and unheard material into the public domain.

 “This exhibition presents Vietnam War-era artefacts alongside living memory within the historical context of New Zealand’s part in this controversial war.

 “Together, these stories and objects create a powerful impression of actual events. They are a window on the real-life experiences of the men and women who served, and the families and communities they came home to,” Claire Hall says.

Papakura Museum manager Kay Thomas says there is already much interest in the Home Fires Burning exhibition.

“It’s remarkable how many people have already dropped in to tell us about their personal or family connection with the Vietnam War.”

 "These stories will touch some people very deeply. It’s a real honour to host an exhibition that contains such important and compelling memories from our local community.”

 A ‘hoochie’ recreation gives a sense of how soldiers made themselves at home within New Zealand lines; voices of veterans’ wives and children present the perspectives of those back home.

Home Fires Burning also touches on the anti-war protest movement, as captured in historic film and photography. The backdrop for these stories is a Vietnam-era suburban New Zealand living room.

 A 1970s TV set plays historic footage, and oral history excerpts of veterans’ personal reactions to the protest movement play on a vintage stereo.

 Every poppy in the Home Fires Burning zone of remembrance is handmade in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The exhibition will be formally opened on Saturday 21 April at the Papakura Museum, Accent Point Building, 209 Great South Rd, at 10.30am.


Further comment:

Claire Hall
Oral Historian
Vietnam War Project
Manatu Taonga
[email protected]
021 739 457


Kay Thomas
Papakura Museum
[email protected]
09 298 2003


Updated on 7th October 2019