School remembers Battle of Be’er Sheva

Issue: Volume 96, Number 21

Posted: 27 November 2017
Reference #: 1H9gVG

Students at Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate now have living reminders of their study of the World War I Battle of Be’er Sheva.

In memory of the 245 Kiwi soldiers killed and buried in Israel 100 years ago at the World War I Battle of Be’er Sheva, Sir Douglas Bader Intermediate students planted 245 trees around the perimeter of their Mangere school on the centenary  last month.

Principal Scott Symes said it was a project that captivated the school’s 180 students. “Each kid knew they were planting a tree for one soldier and it became really important to them. Everyone had a tree to plant, and some had two.”

The school managed to track down the family of Robert Thompson Miller, a local Mangere man who died at Be’er Sheva aged 23. His great-niece – a teacher herself – came to the school for the planting. “She spent the morning with us and brought a family album,” Scott says.

Some of the students talked about how they would like to return to the school in the future, with their own children, to show them the tree they planted. “That shows they really feel they belong here. It’s given them a connection with the past and also helped them connect to our school.”

The students – many of them Pasifika and Māori – held prayer circles around the native trees, which were donated by the New Zealand Jewish community.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman says the war forged a permanent bond between New Zealand and Israel. “Both countries are young democracies that share values such as equality and freedom, and honour and respect their fallen. The New Zealand Jewish community felt it was important that they helped create this lasting tribute,” says Stephen.

Scott says the trees have made a huge difference to the school grounds. “The school backs on to the South Western Motorway and David Lange Park. It will be great not to see the motorway (and things that sometimes go on in the park),” he says.

“We now have privacy and the trees give a sense of protection – just like soldiers.” 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 27 November 2017

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