Author(s): Jane Tolerton
The history books tell us that about 550 New Zealand nurses went to World War One while other women stayed home, knitting, fundraising and looking after families and farms while the men were away. But many women went too - as doctors and ambulance drivers, munitions workers and mathematicians, civil servants and servicewomen in British units, and in many other roles. They mainly paid their own fares and worked for very little. Some provided amenities for soldiers and others, and these have often been attributed to the military or men's groups.
Make her Praises Heard Afar introduces women whose contribution to the war effort has been overlooked, telling an astonishing story with extraordinary range and depth of research. The title's use of a phrase from the national anthem invites New Zealand women to recognise that they were us - 100 years ago. New Zealand women who have read World War One books by men and about men are ready to appreciate that women were there too. This book will appeal to a wide range of women - particularly those interested in women's history, feminism and World War One. There is much interest from family members of these women and from young women.
The book is written for a wide readership in simple, accessible prose. Jane is the author of a New Zealand Book Award winning biography of Ettie Rout, the New Zealand woman most associated in the public mind with World War One. She wrote a second book on Ettie in 2014, focussing on her wartime safe sex campaign, Ettie Rout: New Zealand's safer sex pioneer. She was co-director of the World War One Oral History Archive, and interviewed 85 veterans. She produced In the Shadow of War, with Nicholas Boyack, and in 2013 listened to the whole archive to produce An Awfully Big Adventure, telling the story of the war in the men's words, chronologically. She uses the chronological format for Make Her Praises Heard Afar, telling stories of individuals and groups through the war, using extended quotes when appropriate. There is expected to be wide interest in the book from the media as it upsets the generally accepted story and shows that New Zealand women have been left out of the national narrative of the war.
JANE TOLERTON, of Wellington, is the author of Ettie: A Life of Ettie Rout and Ettie Rout: New Zealand's safer sex pioneer, which concentrates on the war years. She set up the World War 1 Oral History Archive, with Nicholas Boyack, and interviewed 85 veterans, co-edited In the Shadow of War and wrote An Awfully Big Adventure: New Zealand World War One veterans tell their stories from the interviews. Her other books include Sixties Chicks and the best-selling Convent Girls. She has won the Dulux News Award, the Cowan Prize for Historical Journalism and a New Zealand Book Award. She received an ONZM for services to history in 2016.