During the First World War, conscription forced almost 20,000 New Zealanders to fight overseas. A group of young artists have presented their exploration into what conscription means to them as part of Luck of the Draw, a new project by the First World War Centenary Programme – WW100 in partnership with Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
An interactive website will launch on 11 July, lotd.nz, which will showcase the emerging artist’s work inspired by film footage of the first conscription ballot, now housed at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
These diverse artists, aged 18 – 25, offer their views on this significant chapter of the First World War, through dance, illustration, song, film and playwriting.
Luck of the Draw aims to spark conversations among young New Zealanders through their peers’ artistic responses to conscription, war and the luck of the draw 100 years on.
By 1916, two years after the First World War began, the number of men volunteering to join New Zealand’s military forces overseas had fallen dramatically. To make up the shortfall, in August of that year the New Zealand Government introduced conscription.
Three months later, on 16 November 1916, the first monthly ballot was held in Wellington at the Government Statistician’s Office where it was filmed by Government cinematographer Sydney Taylor for historical purposes.
Between 1916 and 1918, 134,393 men were ‘called up’ under the monthly ballot system. 32,270 of these men were sent to camp and of these, 19,548 embarked for service overseas. They represent almost 20% of New Zealand’s First World War soldiers who served abroad.