The Bulford Kiwi: The Kiwi we left behind by Colleen Brown
This a story I haven’t heard of before – it’s the account of a 130-metre-tall Kiwi that was carved into a hill in southern England in 1919 by New Zealand troops waiting to go home at the end of World War One. Soldiers eager to get back home were stuck in Sling Camp, and they were not a happy lot, despite the end of the war. They had to deal with an overcrowded camp, foul weather and mundane routines and an influenza epidemic that might take away their chances of ever returning home alive. The frustrations of this led to an all-out riot in March! Officials realised they needed to keep the troops busy to improve morale, so it led to the idea of cutting a giant Kiwi into the chalk hill behind the camp. This became an emblem to be proud of and a cherished link to home.
The book tells how the Bulford Kiwi was constructed as a memorial built by soldiers, not for governments, but for themselves and their mates. It was particularly poignant for the men who would never make it home. The book also tells what happened to the Bulford Kiwi when soldiers left for New Zealand.
The Bulford Kiwi is a well-written and well-researched book that brings to life a story that I am sure will be new for many other people also. It’s a welcome addition to the well-known stories from World War I, and it’s refreshing to read something more upbeat about this war. The Bulford Kiwi is certainly an emblem of hope and endurance – and it is heartening to know that it will last the test of the time. After being resurrected after World War II, the Bulford Kiwi is now formally listed as a protected historical site by Heritage England.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Bateman, RRP $39.99