New Zealand’s Holocaust Centre marks 10th anniversary

August 15, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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A milestone in New Zealand Holocaust education was celebrated recently with a dinner hosted by the country’s Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at the capital’s Government House.

Inge Woolf and Dame Patsy Reddy   Photo: Woolf Photography

The 10th anniversary celebration of the New Zealand Holocaust Centre was attended by over one hundred supporters from around the country commemorating past achievements, expressing gratitude for support, and looking ahead to more challenges.

Affirming her decision to become Patron of the Holocaust Centre, Dame Patsy Reddy said: “The presence at the dinner of Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford and Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy underlined the close links between the Human Rights Commission and the Holocaust Centre in combatting bullying, racism and antisemitism.

The Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, spoke strongly about the necessity of maintaining action against antisemitism.

Reflecting on the last ten years, founding director Inge Woolf said: “We started with nothing, no experience, no funding, no premises – nothing! Nothing but our determination that the Holocaust, the genocide that had taken our families and changed our lives, the most industrialised, state sponsored genocide the world has ever known, should not be forgotten.

Israeli Ambassador Dr. Itzhak Gerberg & Luamanuvao Winnie Laban Photo: Woolf Photography

“It was also important to us that its lessons be made relevant to the children of New Zealand and that was a challenge for us in this small country so far away from where it all happened. But relevant it was, and never more so than today in this age of fake news, a refugee crisis and racial wars and tensions.”

Mrs Woolf spoke about the Holocaust Centre’s major programme, in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and New Zealand donors, enabling Kiwi teachers to attend special Yad Vashem training seminars in Jerusalem. So far 62 educators have been empowered to extend Holocaust education, and the wider messages that go with it, to New Zealand school pupils.

When thanking people who had helped along the way, Mrs Woolf pointed to the initial and ongoing assistance from Wellington City Council, and the valuable pro bono advice from Wellingtonian Ken Gorbey who had just returned from setting up the opening exhibition at the Berlin Jewish Museum. She passed on Ken’s comment that “the work of the Holocaust Centre is about making New Zealand a more moral place.”

She reflected that “while New Zealanders have the good fortune to live in a constitutional monarchy – operating under the rule of law, with an independent judiciary – the Holocaust teaches us that such precious freedoms can be eroded or overturned – with disastrous consequences for civil society.”

Holocaust Centre Chairperson, Jeremy Smith, also thanked the many people from across New Zealand.

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