All posts by Wouter

April 1916 – The Great War

In commemoration of the landing and sacrifice of New Zealand troops at Anzac cove on the Gallipoli Peninsula, the New Zealand government declared 25 April a half day holiday “Anzac Day”, commencing at 1:00pm 25 April 1916.

During April 1916 the main New Zealand contingent “The New Zealand Division”,  including many¹ of the New Zealand troops that were evacuated from the abandoned Anzac cove area in December 1915, arrived in France from Egypt. 

The Gallipoli campaign cost New Zealand nearly 7,500 casualties, including 2,721 dead.

During the WWI centenary period, fields of remembrance were created at various places around the country, including one for the fallen of the Wellington region, at the Wellington botanical gardens.

Wellington Field of Remembrance.

1. The  New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade remained in Egypt, tasked with protecting the Suez canal.

Something fishy.

Lake Malawi is the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system. It is one of the 10 largest lakes in the world and the third largest in Africa.

This lake is home to more species of fish than any other lake.

Aquarium keepers are mostly familiar with the wide variety of colourful and popular aquarium fish, Cichlids, of which there are about 1000 species  in the lake.

The lake is also home to vast numbers of lake sardine (Engraulicypris sardella), an important food species.

Lake sardines being dried, Senga, Malawi
Lake sardines being dried, Senga, Malawi

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Gedroogte blare uit die Hantam…

Buite is dit donker, koud en nat en ek sit hier met ‘n hand vol herrinering …

‘n Handvol gruis uit die Hantam –
My liewe, lekker Hantam-wyk!
‘n Handvol gruis en gedroogde blare,
Waboom-blare, ghnarrabos-blare!
Arm was ek gister, en nou is ek ryk.
Arm in herinnering, arm in verbeelding,
Arm in onthou van die vroeër jare
Deurgebring in die Hantam-wyk.
‘n Handvol gras en gedroogde blare
Maak my, wat arm was, koning-ryk –
Ryk in herinnering, ryk in verbeelding,
Ryk in onthou van die vroeër tyd
Toe die Hantam-wêreld al die wêreld
Vir my was in die vroeër tyd.
‘n Handvol gruis en gedroogde blare
Vertel so veel van die wonderjare
In my liewe lekker Hantam-wyk –
Waboom-blare, ghnarrabos-blare –
Arm eergister en nou skatryk!


C Louis Leipoldt

Wouter by Leipoldt se graf, Pakhuispas (Clanwilliam).


In Africa but not of Africa

Great Zimbabwe is a vast stone complex after which the country is now named.

There is now consensus that this complex was built by the Shona people. This was not always thus and some earlier archaeological work was done consistent with Einstein’s observation “it is the theory that decides what we can observe”.

A prior archeologist employed by Cicil John Rhodes was so convinced that the structure could not be of African origin that he ordered around 1.5 meters of top soil (containing the detritus of African occupation) to be removed from the complex and dumped in the veld.

Great Zimbabwe - Hill Complex
Great Zimbabwe – Hill Complex
Great Zimbabwe - Hill Complex
Great Zimbabwe – Hill Complex

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August 1915

Today 100 years ago saw the end of the last major assault to secure the  Ottoman position at Hill 60 at Gallipoli.

The unsuccessful attack on Hill 60 resulted  in over 1,100 allied casualties and was part of the last major offensive of the Gallipoli Campaign  during the war.

The August campaign included the Battle of Sari Bair  ( 6 to 21 August) the Battle of Scimitar Hill (21 August) and the Battle for Hill 60 (21 – 29 August).

As part of the 100 year commemoration of New Zealand participation in the war, the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, features a truly magnificent and moving exhibit “Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War” that includes 6 sculptures at 2.4 times life scale.

Sculpture from “Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War” exibit.


Details of the Te Papa exhibit:

WWI – NZ Horse

On Saturday 6 July 1920, the only four horses that returned to New Zealand after service in the great war disembarked at Kings wharf  in Wellington (out of about 10,000 that left NZ for war).

One of the best known was the horse  Bess who served with Colonel GC Powles. She traveled to Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, France, Germany and England.

She became the model for an ANZAC monument erected to the memory of the ANZAC mounted troops at Port Said in Egypt.

Upon her death in 1934 (at the ripe old age of 24) the Colonel erected a private monument at her burial site.

New Zealand Mounted Rifles
Horse with rider, displaying historic New Zealand Mounted Rifles uniform, ANZAC Parade Wellington.

The Great War – ANZAC

Saturday 25 April 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the landing of mainly Australian and New Zealand troops on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula. This was an attempt to secure the Dardanelles for the Allied navies but became a bitter eight month long campaign. This campaign saw the birth of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and 25 April became a public holiday of remembrance in both Australia and New Zealand (ANZAC Day).

For this 100th anniversary Wellington put on her finest, a new memorial park, (Pukeahu  War Memorial Park) new exhibits at the National War Memorial and the National Museum (Te Papa) and a light and sound show on the walls of the Dominion Museum BuildingIMG_3688

and carillon tower (National War Memorial).


Lest We Forget

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them. *


*Ode of Remembrance from the poem “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon.

Biggest of the big

The biggest tree in the world , by volume, is the General Sherman tree. This tree is a Giant Sequoia tree (Sequoiadendron giganteum) located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park.

The tree has an estimated bole volume of 1,487 cubic metres (52,513 cu ft), and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years.

Grizzly Giant; a Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park.

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A long as its black.

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a member of the big cats found in Africa, the Middle East  and some parts of Asia.

The South American, equivalent is the Jaguar (Panthera onca), slightly heavier build than the Leopard.

Both the Leopard and the Jaguar have melanistic  (black pigmented) individuals, both called black panthers.

Thus a black panther can be a black leopard or a black jaguar.

Leopard (Panthera pardus).

(#88 of 100)

What of the bow?

What of the bow?

The bow was made in England:

 Of true wood, of yew-wood,

The wood of English bows;

 So men who are free

Love the old yew-tree

And the land where the yew-tree grows.


The English (or Welsh) longbow gained renown as a formidable weapon of war in spite of the fact that the majority of archers were not in any formal or standing army.

The success of the long bow is partly due to a number of laws that at various times:

  • Made it a crime for any man to not own a bow and arrows
  • Required bow practice on any holiday (eg Sunday)
  • Restricted sport (eg football) not involving bow and arrow
  • Made it an offense to not supply any son older than 7 years old with a bow and arrows and teaching them to use it.
Not an English Longbow.

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