Presbyterian Church Archives

Photo Gallery No 17 :

"The New Zealand Presbyterian Church and The Boer War 1899 - 1902"

 

Our Boer War Gallery features a rather eclectic range of ephemera relating directly to and associated with the era of the South African War of 1899-1902, commonly known in New Zealand as the Boer War. Long standing tensions between the semi-independant Boer South African Republic (Transvaal) and their ally, the Orange Free State, ultimately escalated into open conflict with the forces of the British Empire whose primary aim was to firmly establish and maintain British dominance in South Africa. Being the first overseas conflict to involve New Zealand troops we refer to this conflict as "The Boer War" rather than "The Second Boer War" which is the more accurate title.

Due to mounting tension in South Africa, New Zealand Premier Richard Seddon generously offered troops to assist Britain just two weeks before open conflict finally broke out on the 11th October 1899. By this date the first contingent of New Zealand volunteers were already preparing for departure. Upon the cessation of hostilities in 1902, ten contingents of New Zealand volunteers totalling nearly 6,500 men with 8,000 horses had sailed for South Africa, along with Doctors, Nurses, Veterinary Surgeons and a small number of school teachers. Seventy New Zealanders died in the war as the result of enemy action, with a rather sobering 158 killed accidentally or having died from disease [Source : NZHistory.net].

The purpose of this gallery is not to give a detailed account of the campaign - that is admirably done on other on-line sites - but to attempt, along with a varied range of ephemera, to document the varying and quite often outspoken attitude of the New Zealand Presbyterian Church clergy towards the war. Please take the time to read these fascinating excerpts. Our resources comprise in excess of 93 published articles, editorials and sermons from Presbyterian Church journals of the day, most of which contain a number of additional news items, public opinion, and extracts of war related news. We would welcome further academic study of this unique and fascinating resource.

Some highly recommended Boer War Resources with New Zealand content (including many other related links) may be found here :

NZ History Net

Fernleaves Across the Veldt

South Africa War Graves Project

We would value your comments and feedback : pcanzarchives@knoxcollege.ac.nz

Presbyterian Church Archives Research Centre Home Page

Donald Cochrane
Curator of Photographs

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11 Jan 1896 : “Still it is well to realise that the claim on us is not absolute…. And we are by no means clear that at least some of the present complications are not the result of injustice and aggression on the part of Englishmen. One cannot help feeling just a little sympathy with the Boers…. They wish to be left alone and go their own ways. Unfortunately the Transvaal turned out rich in gold. This attracted populace. And now this new and alien element desires a share in the government of the country… Covetousness and the lust for gold are at the root of most of our national troubles, and we have to be mindful that the appeal to our country’s honour is not made a stalking horse to cover the unhallowed designs of men aflame with no passion but the greed of gain.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

Queen Victoria by Bassano, Jan 1897

 

 

For Queen & Country :

A portrait of Queen Victoria, taken by Alexander Bassano at Osborne House, Isle of Wight in January 1897.

[Ref : MLS-10]

It was during the last couple of years of her record reign that Queen Victoria had to face the distressing news that hostilities had broken out between her British subjects and the Boers in South Africa. The honour and pride of Great Britain and her Empire were now at stake. Queen Victoria herself took the conflict very seriously and not wanting to appear unsympathetic to the sufferings of her subjects, promptly cancelled her regular annual holiday to the South of France. At the Queen's request, a great deal of detailed military information from her Ministers was daily laid before her to which she frequently responded with various suggestions - or rebukes - by post or cypher telegram.

After a siginificant British defeat in late 1899, she advised the Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, "Please understand, Mr Balfour; there is no one depressed in this house; we are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist." She would have been astonished to know that her inspiring and patriotic words would be reproduced in print and circulated via millions of leaftets for morale-raising purposes during the Second World War.

 

 

21 Oct 1899 : “Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War – It has come at last. The sword has been drawn in the Transvaal, and nothing apparently is left now but to settle our quarrels as the wild beasts do. That is what war is. It represents an utter breakdown of everything that can properly be called human.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

The Rev Rutherford Waddell :

In his influential and priviledged position as Editor of the Presbyterian Journal "The Outlook" to 1901, the Rev. Rutherford Waddell actively expressed in published form - and no doubt also from the pulpit - his own strong anti-war sentiments and misgivings concerning the Boer war.

Originally from the Irish Presbyterian Church, the Rev Waddell became very well known as a social activist during his long tenure as Minister of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church Dunedin. Waddell is particularly well known, even today, by his 1888 sermon, "The Sin of Cheapness', which sought to highlight sweated labour, particularly the appalling working conditions of Dunedin's seamstresses. A resulting Royal Commission confirmed his allegations which lead to far reaching Government led reforms.

[Ref : P-S15-22]

 

Rev Rutherford Waddell

 

 

21 Oct 1899 : “Looked at from the Imperial point of view we are proud of the spirit of patriotism which the colonies display. In our own country it is gratifying to see the number that have volunteered for the Transvaal.… We have no desire to cheapen in the very slightest the acclaim which greets these volunteers. They are brave men, and they deserve and should receive our warmest applause and prayers. But… the present conflict is but an incident in that more terrible one between good and evil, between Christ and Satan…” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

Council of Christian Churches Farewell Serive for the 4th Contingent to South Africa 24 March 1900

 

The New Zealand Council of Christian Churches programme of the service to commend the Fourth Contingent of troops for South Africa to "The Safekeeping of Almighty God", celebrated at First Church Dunedin 24th March 1900.

[Ref : First Church of Otago collection]

 

21 Oct 1899 : “The soldiers of the Cross are at work every day. They are at work in Sabbath Schools, in mission halls, in churches… Is there anything like the same enthusiasm aroused by the labour of these? Into how many homes go the papers that tell of this warfare? What numbers volunteer for it?... They are questions that do not admit of a very reassuring answer – and answer complimentary to the public interest in the great warfare of light with darkness…. The army that bears upon a crimson scroll, “Our glory is to slay” commands far more attention and stirs a deeper enthusiasm than that which bears the single line, “Our duty is to love” ”   [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

Hot Off the Wire :

An original hand-written service telegram containing South African war news received by the Lake Wakatipu Mail and date stamped 17 August 1900 by the Queenstown Post and Telegraph Office. The original telegram has been notated by the Editor prior to the typesetter preparing the printing plates.

[Ref : First Church of Otago collection].

"One of [President] Kruger's sons was captured at Rustenburg.... correspondent reports that 8000 Boers are strongly posted in the hills at Bottamely [sic.?]...."

 

Boer War News Telegram 17 Aug 1900 Page 1

 

 

28 Oct 1899 : [A correspondent] makes a very great mistake if he supposes that any veiled threat about the usefulness of ‘The Outlook’ being impaired by our inability to speak in laudatory [praising] terms of the war in South Africa, will effect us. We have not learned to write or speak under any such condition… We have our own version of things, thought out by ourselves, humble enough it may be, and probably lacking the effectiveness of [other British journals], but it is our own, and we are prepared, alike through sunshine and storm, to abide by it.”  [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

Dunedin Patriotic Fund Transvaal War Fundraising Pamphlet, 1901

 

Dunedin Patriotic Fund :

A colourful and nationalistically inspired fund-raising pamphlet issued by the Dunedin Patriotic Fund Committee in aid of the South African [Transvaal] War.


[Ref : First Church of Otago collection]

 

4 Nov 1899 : “Our position in regard to this war seems to be misunderstood. It can be stated in a sentence. We disapprove of the war…. But we applaud the patriotism of the colonies in sending help to the mother country. We honour the brave fellows who are taking their lives in their hand for the unity of the Empire… We cannot conscientiously agree that this was the best way out of the difficulty; but it is the only way left to us now.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

The Rev James Gibb :

Pictured here in traditional Moderatorial dress as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand in 1901.

[Ref : P-S14-21]

The Rev James Gibb of First Church Dunedin, although rather more restrained in his opinions that those of the Rev Waddell, still did not hesitate to openly voice his personal misgivings concerning the conflict. He cynically but quite correctly noted that the possible loss of valuable British vested interests - and greed - in South Africa may have been the root cause of the conflict. Gibb did however feel that British interests would be more beneficial to the indigenous black population. Interestingly, and particularly after The Great War of 1914-18, the Rev Gibb became a committed Pacifist, being instrumental in establishing the New Zealand League of Nations Union in 1921.

 

Rev James Gibb

 

 

4 Nov 1899 : “Upon whom or what rests the responsibility of this appeal to the sword for settlement of the differences between Britain and the Boers it is impossible in the face of conflicting evidence to say. Is it the dogged obstinacy of the Boer or British lust for gold?... My uncertainty has restrained my sympathy with the war fever now sweeping over the Empire.” – Rev Gibb sermon at First Church Dunedin 22 Oct 1899

 

 

Boer War News Telegram 17 Aug 1900 Page 2Boer War News Telegram 17 Aug 1900 Page 3

 

Hot Off the Wire :

A further two pages of the above original hand-written and notated service telegram containing South African war news and received by the Lake Wakatipu Mail, being date stamped 17 August 1900 at the Queenstown Post and Telegraph Office. Until the passing of "The Defence Act" of 1909 New Zealand had no nationally organised defence force or compulsory military training, therefore recruits for South Africa were of necessity drawn from trained Volunteer Corps throughout New Zealand.

The text also reads that "The Defence Committee have submitted report to N.Z. Parliament, recommending [that] services of all volunteer corps be accepted. It will bring [the] forces of colony [up] to 18,000 [men]."

[Ref : First Church of Otago collection]

 

Oct-Nov 1899 : The Synod [of Otago & Southland] records its satisfaction in the present manifestation of the unity of our Empire, and the steadfast loyalty of the nation to the throne of Her Gracious Majesty the Queen; the Synod expresses sincere delight in the patriotism of our colonists and especially of our soldiers…. The Synod expresses the hope that the day may soon dawn when nations will find some way of settling their differences at once more reasonable, humane, and Christian than shedding each other’s blood.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

"The Boer War, 1900" by Byam Shaw :

A notable work by the British Painter, Illustrator, Designer and Teacher, Byam Shaw (1872-1919), which graphically depicts the despair felt over the Boer War. The sub-title reads "Last summer green things were greener, brambles fewer, the blue sky bluer", being a quote from the English poet, Christina Rosetti.
Shaw was influenced in his style of painting by the Pre Raephelites, William Rosetti and John Millais. The original of this work, which dates from 1901, is now held by the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery / The Bridgman Art Gallery.

[Ref : M. Watson Collection; taken from "Bibby's Annual", c. 1902-05 and originally published by arrangement with the artist]

 

The Boer War 1900 by Byam Shaw

 

 

11 Nov 1899 : “Dr Copeland moved  that the Synod [of Otago and Southland] regrets that damaging reflections were cast on the responsible members of the Imperial Government in respect to the outbreak of hostilities with the Boers… The Rev Mr Hewitson said he would move this amendment ‘ That the synod expresses its appreciation of the independent opinion on public questions – sometime unpopular questions – with which the Editor of the Outlook [Dr R Waddell] has done his work - and of the fullness and prominence he has always given to the opinion of those differing from him [Amendment passed 73 votes to Dr Copland’s 18 votes]”

 

 

Boer War News Telegram 20 Aug 1900 Page 1

 

Hot Off the Wire :

Another original hand-written service telegram containing South African war news received by the Lake Wakatipu Mail and date stamped 20 August 1900 by the Queenstown Post and Telegraph Office.

[Ref : First Church of Otago collection].

This service telegram makes reference to the names of war invalids who sailed by the "Wilcannia" from Capetown South Africa on the 16th August 1900.

 

11 Nov 1899 : Letter to The Editor : “…Allow me to thank you for the articles which [others] wish to condemn… The question here is not so much whether or not our quarrel is a just one, but whether or not war could have been avoided without sacrificing the honour of Britain. The answer seems to be an emphatic Yes.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

Hot Off the Wire :

The second page of the above original hand-written service telegram containing South African war news received by the Lake Wakatipu Mail and date stamped 20 August 1900 by the Queenstown Post and Telegraph Office. News "pulled" from another newspaper and which expands on the telegraphed items has been affixed to the telegram for the typesetter to include instead of the original.

[Ref : First Church of Otago collection]

 

Boer War News Telegram 20 Aug 1900 Page 2

 

 

18 Nov 1899 : Letter to the Editor : “I don’t know that I agree with everything you advance in your weekly Notes; but I certainly do admire your outspokenness… But the final verdict must be left to the future historian; and probably that verdict will be…  much against the righteousness of the Transvaal war…” [“The Outlook”]

 

 

Boer War Era Art

 

Boer War Era Art :

The Boer War period brought forth a variety of patriotically inspired "war art", much of it portraying soldiers in heroic poses. This rather fanciful image is from the cover of a scrap album which we know commenced use in 1900. While the mounted rifleman is kitted out more or less in Boer war era kit, including his bullet belt draped over his shoulder; his mount, sword and lance are more reminiscent of a jousting knight! Such nationalistic inspired images, often showing some considerable artistic licence, were a feature of this period.

[Ref : Rev A. Gray Collection]

 

23 Dec 1899 : “There may be differences of opinion about the cause or justice of the war. But it is no time to discuss these now. The ranks must be closed, and we must unite to see it through as quickly as possible. And above all, we must do our best to alleviate the suffering of the widows and orphans of those gallant fellows who have died in this war.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

The Death of Queen Victoria :

In the midst of the Boer War, the sad news of Queen Victoria's death was announced on the 21st January 1901. The Queen's last formal public duty had in fact been to review Commonwealth troops at Windsor Castle on the 16th November 1900. Queen Victoria dutifully recorded the event in her personal journal :

After twelve went over to St George’s Hall........, where I inspected about one hundred Colonial troops, who had been invalided [home]. There were Canadians, Australians, Tasmanians, New Zealanders and men from the Cape and Ceylon, representing forty-five regiments.

With some considerable speed the Wanganui Chronicle prepared an extra edition entirely devoted to the late Queen's Reign, this being an advertising flier for that publication.

(Ref : Rev RM Ryburn Album)

 

Newspaper Notification of Death of Queen Victoria January 1901

 

 

6 Jan 1900 : “He [the Boer] is intensely religious… No wonder then that the Boers consider themselves God’s chosen people, and all others, notably the British – as his enemies.” – Rev GY Roby of Orepuki, for some years a Minister in the Transvaal. [“The Outlook”]

 

 

Memorial Serice to Queen Victoria, Mosgiel 2 Feb 1901

 

Memorial Services for the late Queen were held throughout New Zealand, the "United Memorial Service" at Mosgiel being an inter-denominational (Protestant) service held on the 2nd February 1901. The death of the reigning British Monarch has always been characterised in newspapers and published material by solid black borders.

Ref : Mosgiel Presbyterian Church collection]

 

17 Feb 1900 : “Our defeats may do us good if we take them the right way. There is no doubt that as a nation we were getting high-minded and losing the fear of the Divine. We were forgetting to bow our head to the God of Heaven… Our pride therefore, has been made for a little to lick the dust. And that is sometimes very wholesome medicine…”  [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

"A Crown of Glory that Fadeth Not Away."

The Trinity Presbyterian Church Nelson pulpit elegantly draped in mourning cloth, flags and garlands of flowers. We believe this photograph to have been taken after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.

[Ref : P-L1-20]

At services on the 28th January 1901, the Rev JH MacKenzie of Trinity Church Nelson preached to large congregations, his morning Sermon being from Ecclesiastes xii, verse 5 "The mourners go about the street", and in the evening from I Peter, chap. v, 4th verse "A crown of glory that fadeth not away." Special hymns were sung with the "Dead March" being played at both services.

The Rev Mackenzie held a Memorial service at 3pm on the 1st February, other denominations in Nelson holding services at different times that same day. The Queen's official funeral took place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on the 2nd February 1901.

 

Trinity Church Nelson Sanctuary draped in Mourning Cloth

 

 

17 Feb 1900 : The Dunedin Presbytery, in the name of our Church, has made arrangements to present to each member of the Otago and Southland Contingent a copy of the New Testament, specially bound in khaki. Stamped in gold on the cover are the words, “The New Zealand Contingent, Transvaal 1900. In the centre the motto, “For God and the Right”. ” [“The Outlook”]

 

 

Henry G Gilbert, 7th Contingent, April 1901

 

Private Gilbert left New Zealand for South Africa as an underage recruit with the 7th Contingent on the 6th April 1901. By the time of the Great War in 1914-1918 he was an ordained Minister of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, this time serving as a Chaplain to the Military Forces. This image portrays him during that latter period when serving as an Army Chaplain. His time serving as a Volunteer in the Boer War would have given him a unique understanding of the feelings and needs of men in time of war.

[Ref : P-XO-21.11]

 

13 Feb 1900 : The Moderator The Right Rev DA Steele to the General Assembly, : “History will point to the war with all its errors and failures as one of the truest and most timely gifts of providence to the British Empire. The loyalty of Britain’s son’s to the British Empire may well teach us a lesson of loyalty to the great kingdom of Christ. The campaign for righteousness and liberty in Africa may well remind us of the holy war that must never cease till evil is everywhere overcome, and all the world won for Christ.”

 

Programme of the Visit of The Duke & Duchess of York :

George, Duke of Cornwall, being the only surviving son of Kind Edward VII, together with his wife Mary, Duchess of York, arrived in New Zealand on the Royal Yacht "Ophir" (accompanied by no less than six British warships) on the 11th June 1901 for an 18 day visit.

[Ref : Call No 993]

The primary reason for their visit had been to personally thank the country for supporting Britain in her conflict with the Boers in South Africa.

 

Royal Visit to New Zealand Programme, June 1901

 

 

31 Mar 1900 : “Why members of the contingent were sent to the races and the theatre but could not be spared to assemble with their friends in religious worship is a question which both perplexes and alarms us. Is it that our military authorities think they can do without God if only they have men and money… It is only the fool who so thinks”  [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

Visit of Duke & Duchess of York to Dunedin June 1901

 

The Duke and Duchess of York [later King George V and Queen Mary] stepping down from the dais after the formal laying of the foundation stone for the memorial statue to the late Queen Victoria in Queen's Garden's, Dunedin, Jun 1901. Police and uniformed military personnel are in evidence in the foreground.

[Ref : "The Outlook", 20 July 1911]

 

14 April 1900 : “We are fighting for the honour and integrity of our Empire… We are fighting for the existence and supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race… We are fighting for the future of the native races and the progress of civilization in South Africa… We are fighting for the existence of Christianity and the mission fields which have been consecrated by the labours and lifeblood of Moffat, Livingstone… and other heroes of South Africa…” – Sermon by Rev W Scorgie, Mornington, Dunedin, 17 Feb 1900

 

A printed letter personally signed by the Duke of York thanking the citizens of Otago for their loyal address and welcome upon their visit to Dunedin from Tuesday 25th June 1901 to Thursday 27th June 1901.

[Ref : Syn3, MD12]

 

Address to the People of Otago from HRH Prince George, the Duke of York, 26 June 1901

 

 

14 April 1900 : “It has unmasked our enemies... It has proved we still have the fighting stuff of our fathers… It has revived the patriotism and federated our Empire… It has humbled our pride and purified our manhood… It has quickened amongst us the spirit of prayer…” -   Sermon by Rev W Scorgie, Mornington, Dunedin 17 Feb 1900

 

 

Extract of Address to the People of Otago from HRH Prince George, the Duke of York, 26 June 1901

 

A close-up of the above address which formally thanks Dunedin and the south for their support of "The Mother Country" and for the manning and equipping by the province of the Fourth Contingent. The address further notes:

"...Dunedin stands unique in having sent from among its brave self-sacrificing daughters nurses to tend and care for the sick and wounded in South Africa".

[Ref : Syn3, MD12]

 

30 June 1900 : One of the signs of the times is the Students’ Missionary Volunteer Conference…. The officers of the conference tell us that young men, the ablest in our universities, are offering for the foreign mission field as readily as men are offering for the South African campaign. … Be it ours, in the peace that follows the clash of armies, to carry on this spiritual warfare…”  [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

A Memorial plaque to Private Hugh Cameron Gillies, Reg No 3732, a salesman of Ravensbourne Parish Dunedin. Private Gillies of No 20 Company left on the "Cornwall" for South Africa as part of the Sixth Contingent on the 30th January 1901. He succumbed to enteric fever at Charlestown, Transvaal, on the 11th February 1902, being interred at Newcastle Cemetery, Natal, South Africa. Private Gillies was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal, and five clasps - Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901, and South Africa 1902.

This plaque formerly resided in Ravensbourne Presbyterian Church but after the Church closed in recent years it was fittingly transferred to the local Community Hall. Unlike the First and Second World Wars, we currently know of no other memorials to individual Boer War soldiers, or to soldiers in general, being placed in any Presbyterian Churches. We would be interested to hear of and to see images of any such extant memorials.

The latin inscription translates as "It is sweet [or agreeable] and honorable to die for one's country" - Attrib. Horace [Quintus Horatius Flaccus], Roman Poet 65-8 B.C.

[Ref : West Harbour Parish Collection]

 

In Memorium Hugh C Gillies

 

4 Aug 1900: Letter written from Bloemfontein by Nurse Williamson [of Dunedin] : “We take all the precautions we can, but nursing on active service, and nursing in hospitals well ventilated, with plenty of disinfectants to hand, are widely different things; and here we are in the very thick of the worst forms of enteric [fever]. However we must do our duty, and hope for the best, knowing that our lives are in the hands of a Higher Power.”  [“The Outlook”]

 

 

Service to Set Apart Rev D Dutton as Chaplain 11 March 1902

 

The Presbyterian Church of New Zealand Service Programme at First Church Dunedin on the 11th March 1902 to set apart the Rev Daniel Dutton as Chaplain to the Ninth Contingent and to commend him and his men to the safe-keeping of Almighty God.

[Ref : First Church of Otago collection]

 

16 Feb 1901 : “There is considerable wearing down of interest in regard to the South African campaign… it has become mere guerrilla warfare. The Boers are as elusive as air… It is certainly irritating to think of so many brave fellows still to die in quelling what has ceased to be legitimate warfare, and one is inclined to cry out for sharper methods. Yet we suppose patience must have its perfect work. We have to consider not only the bringing of an end to the war, but the pacification that has to follow. Swift, stern measures might end speedily the campaign but they might also leave undying hatred in the hearts of those we have hereafter to conciliate and govern…” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

The Rev Daniel Dutton of Caversham Presbyterian Church, pictured here in 1898

[Ref : P-X-8).

At age 50, appointed as Chaplain to the Caversham Rifles in 1900; selected as Captain-Chaplain to accompany the 9th New Zealand Contingent to South Africa in 1902. Rev Dutton sailed on "The Kent" 12 March 1902, returning the same year. Awarded QSA with clasps Transvaal and South Africa 1902.

Rev Dutton went on to serve as a Chaplain during World War One, retiring from Chaplaincy service as Lieutenant Colonel Chaplain, 10 May 1918.

Awarded 1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory medal.
Awarded New Zealand Service Medal (12 years)
Awarded New Zealand Long & Efficient Service Medal (16 years)

 

Rev Daniel Dutton, 1898

 

 

11 Jan 1902 : “Our attitude towards the Boers, as adopted by the newspapers and more specially the colonial newspapers, whose very headlines are meant to insult, is an exception to the British rule of treating an enemy with courtesy. Rarely is there even the briefest reference to their chivalry, although our contingent men are ready enough to acknowledge it in private”  [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

Appointment of Rev RM Ryburn as Honorary Chaplain to Wanganui Highland Rifle Volunteers, 2 Apr 1902

 

A copy of the appointment of the Rev Robert Middleton Ryburn as Chaplain to the Wanganui Highland Rifle Volunteers on the 2nd April 1902. Until the NZ Defence Act of 1909, regiments were drawn from such trained volunteer corps.

At the March 1901 meeting of the Rifle Association in Wanganui, Colonel Sutherland stated : "The war in South Africa has been a big lesson for us all; it has shown the authorities that the force best adapted for such a war is the mounted rifleman - smart, active men, handy with horses, and men that know how to use a rifle. We have sent seven Contingents away, first class men, fearless riders, full of pluck and endurance...." [Wanganui Herald, 21 Mar 1901]

[Ref : Rev RM Ryburn 391/12]

 

1 Feb 1902 : “In a few days 1000 more of our young men will have sailed for South Africa…. And no Chaplains are appointed! Are we a Christian country, and actually suffer 3,000 of the pick of our sons, or death without a man to encourage them to Christian practice, to cheer them in danger, to pray with them, and preach Christ to them?... Let Presbyterians awake, and lead the van throughout New Zealand in demanding the removal of this insult to God and the moral and deterioration to our men. If the Government will not do it, mark it up against the next elections. Nay, I call upon Presbyterians to put their hands in their pockets… and show their zeal for God’s cause by subscribing ample funds to send three ministers… to meet the needs of our own men in the field…” Rev EC Tennent, Port Chalmers. [“The Outlook”]

 

Teachers For Afrikaner Women's Concentration Camps :

This notice taken from the Knox Church Dunedin "Quarterly Statement" for January - March 1902 records the presentation of bound Oxford Teacher's Bibles to Miss Helen McLeod and Miss Allanetta McLeod, both of Dunedin, and Miss Margaret Taylor of Mosgiel prior to their leaving for South Africa as teachers for children in Afrikaner Concentration camps established for non-combatant women.

(Ref : Knox Church Dunedin Collections, courtesy of Lyndall Hancock, Knox Church Archivist)

Overall, 20 teachers were chosen from 220 New Zealand applicants. The other women chosen from the Otago Southland region were Annie Rees of Dunedin, Jane Ralston of Blue Spur, and Elsie Jackson of Invercargill. Their is no record of how long the women stayed in South Africa, however it is recorded that the death rate in these camps from disease was appalling.

 

Knox Church Dunedin Teachers for South Africa, 1902

 

 

8 Feb 1902 : “The timely action of Dunedin Presbytery has borne good fruit, and in response to their communications, the Premier has intimated… that a Chaplain has been appointed to the Eight Contingent… This is a matter for sincere congratulations…” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

Lord Roberts

 

Frederick, First Earl Roberts 1932 - 1914

Field Marshall Lord Roberts, as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in South Africa and one of the most succesful Commanders of the Victorian era, first relieved Kimberley then advanced his troops on Pretoria which surrendered to him on the 29th May 1900. Upon being relieved by General Kitchener [of Khartoum fame] in November 1900, Roberts returned to Britain to be showered with more awards and accolades. At his death in 1914 Roberts was afforded a Lying in State and a State Funeral, being the the first non-royal subject to be given both honours.

Ref : "The Outlook", 1st Dec 1914]

 

8 Feb 1902 : “…it is to be hoped that the chosen Chaplain will answer to the description given… ‘Of warm, sympathetic natures, robust bodies, and experience in riding, driving, and roughing it. Let them be men able to show that love of souls banishes fear of bullets, fatigue, hardships, and sickness, and our young men will reverence and listen to them.’” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

His Majesty King Edward VII ascended the throne 21 January 1901 upon the death of his mother, Queen Victoria. His strenuous efforts at maintaining peace throughout his Empire, and particularly in Europe, would earn him the title of"Edward The Peacemaker".

[Ref : MLS-10]

 

King Edward VII, Crowned 9 Aug 1902

 

 

8 Mar 1902 : “The Seventh Contingent’s heavy loss on the battlefield enables us the better to realise the need of the adequate chaplaining of the Ninth Contingent. It is gratifying , therefore, to know, that… the Premier has appointed the Rev D. Dutton, of Caversham, Captain-Chaplain to the Ninth Contingent…. The least that the Presbyterians of this colony can do is to generously respond to the appeal from the Moderator... and furnish Chaplain Dutton with sufficient funds to enable him to play his part properly. The Premier was distinctly assured that if a Chaplain were appointed, the needed funds for his expenses would be forthcoming.”  [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

Coronation Celebrations for King Edward VII, 1902

 

The formal crowning of King Edward VII took place at Westminster Abbey on the 9 Aug 1902.

Wanganui held a "United Gathering" in the Opera House to celebrate the Coronation under the auspices of the Wanganui [Protestant] Ministers Association. The Presbyterian Minister at St Paul's Wanganui, from whose collection this programme comes, read the opeining prayer.

Ref : Rev RM Ryburn Album)

The King's reign oversaw the last 17 months of the conflict which ended with a peace treaty being concluded on the 31st May 1902. Peace finally reigned supreme and the honour of Britian and her Empire had been secured.

 

7 June 1902 : “Peace at last! … Justice has triumphed over oppression; the honour of the Empire has been vindicated… This colony, which has taken a foremost part in the struggle, whilst mourning the loss of so many of her brave sons… rejoices that the effort put forth has not been in vain; but that the goal so steadily kept in view – viz, the supremacy of British rule in South Africa – has at last been attained. The vanquished Boers will, we trust, not be slow to respond to the clemency which Britons always know to extend to a fallen foe; racial hatred should speedily vanish; and Briton and Boer be united in a brotherhood which keeps ever in view the realisation of commercial, political, and religious freedom throughout South Africa.” [“The Outlook” Editorial]

 

 

The Troopers' Memorial Invercargill

Invercargill erected a memorial to their fallen in a prime position at the corner of Dee and Tay Streets, the Premier Sir Joseph Ward attending the dedication ceremony on the 3rd June 1908 . This tinted postcard image is most likely taken at about this time. An iron gate decorated with two 'crossed' rifles (which remain in situ) led via a decorative circular cast iron staircase (broken and now missing) to the upper level. The cost of the monument was met from public subscription plus £500 from the Transvaal War Patriotic Committee. The Cararra Italian marble statue of a Rifleman unfortunately fell and broke into three pieces whilst being hoisted into position but was skillfully repaired by the New Zealand resident craftsman, Carlo G. Bergamini (originally from Cararra himself), and today appears none the worse for this mishap.

[Ref : M. Watson Collection]

The Boer War is almost exclusively commemorated today in the form of public memorials, the placing of memorials or windows in Churches and elsewhere not becoming commonplace until 'The Great War' of 1914-18.

 

The Troopers Memorial Invercargill

 

 

14 June 1902 : “Let it be freely granted that the war now ended was on our part a just and an inevitable war. Had we declined the conflict or, having entered it had we been defeated or sheathed the sword before victory was, in the sight of the whole world manisfestly ours, the very existence of the Empire would have been imperilled. And apart from our patriotism, we as Christian must shudder to imagine the disaster which so far as we can see the overthrow of Britain would have meant for the kingdom of God” – Rev J Gibb addressing the Council of Christian Churches joint thanksgiving service at Dunedin. [“The Outlook”]

 

 

The Troopers' Memorial, Albert Park, Aucklandl

 

 

The Troopers' Memorial, Albert Park, Auckland

This marble memorial commemorates troops of the 5th Contingent who died in the South African War between 1900 to 1901. As with other memorials, the statue was presumably of Italian manufacture, however the base, which included a drinking fountain with water coming from the mouth of a lion, is by a local Stonemason, Mr W. Parkinson. Image taken circa 1913.

The memorial is now enclosed by an iron railing fence to deter vandalism. At least one of the large mounted coastal defence guns at right rear remains, we are unsure of the whereabouts of the classic Boer war era "pom pom" gun immediately behind the memorial.

[Ref : Rev LH Ker Collection A-S20-108]

 

28 Jun 1902 : “We thank God for deliverance from great peril to the State. We are told that [German Chancellor] Bismarck saw in the Boer republic the breaking of Great Britain, the wedge that, driven home would divide and shatter the Empire… Germany, France and Russia would have intervened…. The vultures would have devoured the carcass till only the bleached bones were left on the sand.” – Thanksgiving sermon by Rev Alex. White at Napier [“The Outlook”]

 

The Dutton Family Memorial Window, representing the Good Shepherd, Caversham Presbyterian Church Dunedin. Designed by Mr J Brock, the dedication of the window took place on Sunday the 25th August 1945.

The South African War Veteran's Association made a donation towards the cost of of this window in June 1945. [Ref : Caversham Parish Collection]

The war helped strengthen New Zealanders' sense of national pride and identity while at the same time strengthening the bond between New Zealand, Great Britain and the far flung British Empire as a whole. By 1907, and as part of this growing nationhood, New Zealand felt that it had outgrown the "colonial stage" and was now ready to assume the status of a Dominion, their request being formally granted the same year. New Zealand now assumed the new status of nationhood in its own right, even if theoretically very little changed in the way of governance.

 

Dutton Memorial Window, Caversham Presbyterian Church