Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says a project by 8 young New Zealand artists will spark new conversations on conscription and give us all a better understanding of its place in our history.

“100 years ago a marble drawn from a spinning barrel could determine whether a man was sent to war. It was a gamble, a lottery, it was the Luck of the Draw,” Ms Barry says.

“During the First World War, conscription forced almost 20,000 New Zealanders to fight overseas. Its introduction for military service had a profound effect on individuals, their families and communities.”

As part of the ‘Luck of the Draw’ project the eight young artists explore what conscription means to them.

“Historic film footage of the first conscription ballot in November 1916 was the catalyst for the creative works which explore this significant chapter of the First World War through dance, illustration, song, film and playwriting,” Ms Barry says.

“Young people can view Liam Hoffman’s animated video ‘Conscripted, 19,548’ online along with Bollywood hip hop dance artist Akshay Dongardive’s ‘The Fading Puppet’ or read Nathan Joe’s short play ‘Those Left Behind’ on the specially created interactive website”

Luck of the Draw is a project by the First World War Centenary Programme – WW100 in partnership with Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.


Conscription was introduced in August 2016 and the first ballot took place on 16 November 1916. The ballot was held at the Government Statistician’s Office where it was filmed by Government cinematographer Sydney Taylor for historical purposes. Today the film footage is housed at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and can be viewed by the public. Between 1916 and 1918, 134,393 men were ‘called up’ under the monthly ballot system. 32,270 of these men were sent to camp and of these, 19,548 embarked for service overseas. Almost 20% of New Zealand’s First World War soldiers who served abroad were conscripted.

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