BY Anuja Nadkarni
Thousands of Kiwis are commemorating Anzac’s centenary by placing personalised messages in the Auckland Domain to build the world’s biggest poppy.
Tony McNeight is the artist behind the creation and got the idea at last year’s Anzac dawn service when he saw everyone laying down flowers and poppies.
“I thought why not do something that everyone can be involved in. That’s what remembering Anzac is all about,” he says.
There are close to 50,000 discs on display but once completed, the giant poppy will consist of 59,000 discs, each in honour of every New Zealander killed in World War I, Mr Mcneight says.
“Kiwis don’t just grow the poppy themselves, but they are the poppy.”
Parnell District School teacher Valerie Marra says the event has also been working closely with schools to teach young Kiwis about the history of New Zealand.
“The thing about Anzac day is that it needs to be carried on for future generations.
“Eighteen past Gallipoli service men went to Parnell District School. It’s very important for us,” she says.
The Giant Poppy Project co-coordinator Angela Griffen says thousands of students have placed discs with messages on them and schools outside of Auckland have contributed to the event through donations.
“It’s important for them to know it’s not so much about war, it’s about freedom,” Ms Griffen says.
Like many of those that have contributed to the display, Christine Bickerton and her family are descendants of the soldiers that fought for New Zealand.
“Well, it’s special to me because my dad fought in World War II. He had seven brothers that went away and seven brothers that came home,” Mrs Bickerton says.
There are cameras placed at the top of the Auckland War Memorial Museum that have been capturing the journey of the giant poppy.
According to the Giant Poppy Project’s website no more poppies will be laid after midday April 24 to prepare for the live screening of the event at Gallipoli on Anzac day.