Kiwis appear to have given generously on Anzac Day, in spite of hard economic times with RSAs across the country reporting reasonably strong poppy sales. Red poppies have been sold every year since 1922 to raise money for veterans' welfare services, raising 1.4 million last year.
Johnsonville RSA collector Tom Kearney said they collected $15,000 last year and expected to bank the about the same amount this year.
The annual event, was given extra publicity this year after Peace Movement Aotearoa angered veterans by announcing plans to sell white poppies the day before Anzac Day. Critics have slammed the move, describing it as a stunt to trade off poppy day.
Porirua RSA manager Dave Brown said the white poppy stunt had not affected their sales, but expected collections to be slightly down on last year as economic hardships bit. "People are remarking about the white poppies but not in a complementary way."
A Wellington-based peace group, called Peace Movement Aotearoa, is defending itself against accusations it is muscling in on the RSA's red poppy appeal. Organiser Edwina Hughes says white poppies have a long history involving remembering the casualties of war and promoting peace and she claims the public wants them despite some of their collectores being verbally abused. Ms Hughes says her group has members who also belong to the RSA and want to wear both the red and white poppies on Anzac Day. She believes the two appeals can easily coexist.
"People can choose to wear both, but it's certainly not in competition with the RSA."
Red poppies have traditionally been a symbol of respect for soldiers who went to past wars, especially those who didn't return. They are specifically worn on ANZAC day in New Zealand and Australia on 25th April. "Lest we forget". White poppies symbolise our need to remember that war is a waste and there are never any winners. To me they symbolise our need to remember that there IS a better way. TSCA♥