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Ensigns of the time . . . South Canterbury Museum curator of social history Chris Rapley examines some of the intricately embroidered flags in the exhibition. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

The human experience of war comes through in the South Canterbury Museum’s latest exhibition.

“In Service: The South Canterbury RSA Collection” features some of the hundreds of items and photographs given to the museum by the RSA, and has been a joy for social history curator Chris Rapley to create.

Mr Rapley – who worked for eight years as a curator at the National Army Museum – said the exhibition featured a mixture of items, from World War 1 medals to Vietnam War paintings to a UN beret.

“There are some really beautiful items in here. It’s been a pleasure to work with, and I’m excited to be sharing it with the public.

Photographic memories . . . Photographs included in the exhibition are an eclectic mix of “tourist” type shots and wartime scenes. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

“While other exhibitions have been about battles, and the fighting of war, this is much more focused on humanity, the human experience and what was important to the people living through it.”

Mr Rapley said the RSA donation had significantly expanded and enriched the museum’s collection.

Familiar words . . . The familiar words of The Ode provide a reminder of those lost to war. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON

His favourite pieces included a tankard made from souvenired brass from North Africa telling the stories of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, a programme from a Kiwi concert party that had put on entertainment for the troops during World War 2, and performed in Timaru in 1943, and a 27th Battalion flag taken from a flagpole as a souvenir and brought back to New Zealand.