It's a long way from Wellington to Gallipoli

This week marks the centenary of the ANZAC assault on Chunuk Bair. Earlier this year a number of National Library staff had the opportunity to visit Chunuk Bair and other Turkish landmarks as guests of the National Library of Turkey. Chief Librarian Chris Szekely recounts the experience.

Thirty-six hours in the air, on the road and on a boat; it is a long way from Wellington to Gallipoli. In early April I was part of a New Zealand delegation that travelled to Turkey to participate in that country’s library week celebrations.

The delegation was led by Peter Murray, Deputy Chief Executive of the Information & Knowledge Services branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. Other delegates included Corin Haines, President of the Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), and Dylan Owen, a curriculum specialist from the National Library’s Services to Schools division.

Corin Haines with Randa Kamal.LIANZA President Corin Haines with Randa Kamal, President of the Palestinian Library Association, on board a ferry on the final leg of the journey to Çanakkale.

Library Week is an annual event in Turkey, and this year it was particularly special because of the World War One centenary. A library conference was held in Çanakkale on the theme of intercultural dialogue. Peter, Corin and I delivered papers at the conference, alongside colleagues from Turkey, Palestine and Bosnia Herzegovina. A paper on the National Library’s WW100 programme was particularly well received.

Peter Murray seated with dignitaries prior to the conference opening ceremony.Peter Murray (second from left) seated with dignitaries prior to the conference opening ceremony.

The city of Çanakkale looks across the Dardanelles to the Gallipoli Peninsula. At the conclusion of the conference, we were taken there to visit significant landmarks, including Lone Pine, ANZAC Cove and Chunuk Bair. Our visit was just a couple of weeks prior to the ANZAC Day centenary, and preparations for official ceremonies were very evident. Scaffolding was being erected in several locations to provide seating for thousands of anticipated visitors.

Conference delegates taking photographs at ANZAC Cove.Conference delegates taking photographs at ANZAC Cove. Photo by Dylan Owen.

Just along from ANZAC Cove, temporary seating installed in preparation for ANZAC Day ceremonies.Just along from ANZAC Cove, temporary seating (visible in red) was installed in preparation for ANZAC Day ceremonies. Several thousand visitors were expected. Photo by Dylan Owen.

Dylan spent the previous day on the peninsula taking photographs for use in WW100 curriculum enquiry guides. A selection of these photographs is included here, and will eventually be deposited into the Turnbull Library’s photographic archive.

Memorials cleaned and repaired atop Chunuk Bair, and the statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the left.Memorials cleaned and repaired atop Chunuk Bair. The statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the left looks across to the New Zealand memorial surrounded by scaffolding for seating. Photo by Dylan Owen.

Remains of trenches from the First World War, and a restored trench.Trenches on Chunuk Bair are still evident as long, weather-worn indentations in the ground. This picture shows a ‘restored’ trench, shored up with modern supports. Photo by Dylan Owen.

After the Gallipoli visit we flew to Ankara, the Turkish capital. We met with colleagues at the National Library of Turkey to discuss various aspects of professional practice. A highlight of the visit was the presentation of several photographic prints from the Turnbull Library, including a portrait of a Turkish soldier from a camera retrieved from Gallipoli. The gift was much appreciated by our hosts.

The New Zealand delegation meeting with representatives from Turkish libraries in Ankara.The New Zealand delegation met with representatives from Turkish libraries in Ankara to discuss matters of common interest. Photo by Dylan Owen.

Corin Haines presents a photographic print from the Alexander Turnbull Library to a representative from the National Library of Turkey.Corin Haines, President of the Library & Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) presents a photographic print from the Alexander Turnbull Library to a representative from the National Library of Turkey.

Discussions were also held with diplomatic staff at the New Zealand Embassy to progress the development of a relationship between the two national libraries. A reference to the relationship was subsequently included in the joint declaration signed by the New Zealand and Turkish prime ministers shortly before the ANZAC ceremonies at Gallipoli:

The two Prime Ministers... emphasised the importance of enhancing cultural linkages. In this regard, the ongoing engagement between the New Zealand and Turkish National Libraries aimed at preserving and sharing the culture and history of the two countries was welcomed.

H.E. Jonathan Curr, New Zealand Ambassador, with Dylan Owen, Corin Haines and Peter Murray at the New Zealand Embassy in Ankara.Left to right: H.E. Jonathan Curr, New Zealand Ambassador, with Dylan Owen, Corin Haines and Peter Murray at the New Zealand Embassy in Ankara.

Tui Dewes at the embassy library with a copy of the Turnbull Library Record.Outgoing Deputy Head of Mission at the New Zealand Embassy, Ms Tui Dewes, at the embassy library with a copy of the Turnbull Library Record.

The Turkish visit was a professional highlight for all of the New Zealanders in the delegation and it was pleasing to see libraries featuring in a historic declaration between the two countries. It is a long way from Wellington to Gallipoli. However, there is now a closer relationship between our two national libraries, particularly on matters of shared and historical interest.

By Chris Szekely

Chris Szekely is Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

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Dave Clemens August 10th at 3:05PM

Great to see the photos along with the story. A big 'hello', and thanks, to Dylan.