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Object: Anti-militarism medal, ’The Socialist Cross of Honour’

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Title Anti-militarism medal, ’The Socialist Cross of Honour’
Production Unknown (maker/artist), 1912, New Zealand
Materials bronze
Classification medals
Technique metalworking, engraving
Dimensions Overall: 35mm (Width) x 40mm (Height)
Credit line Gift of B D Veitch, date unknown
Registration number NU007157

This bronze medal known as 'The Socialist Cross of Honour' was modelled on the Victoria Cross. It was one of at least 39 crosses given by the New Zealand Socialist Party to young men who were imprisoned for refusing compulsory military training (introduced by the Defence Act 1909).

The cross is made of brass, possibly at the Addington Railway Workshops in Christchurch, a socialist stronghold and headquarters of the Passive Resisters Union. Each cross was numbered and included the recipient’s name and date of incarceration. In this cross, the centre shield is inscribed with the legend: 'N.Z.S.P. / No. 29 / Anti-Militarism / E.H. Mackie / Imprisoned / 22. 4.12 / For Courage'. The motto took its cue from the Victoria Cross motto 'For Valour'. In a similar vein, the newspaper Maoriland Worker listed cross recipients in a Roll of Honour as it would for military honours. The 'Red Flag' socialist symbol is at the centre and highlighted with red paint. It also represents the famous socialist anthem The Red Flag, sung at party meetings.

Claiming honour for anti-militarism was bold and provocative in the context of pre-First World War New Zealand.

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