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An Anzac Mother: The Gingernut Lady

An Anzac Mother: The Gingernut Lady

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When:

  • Tue 11 Aug ’15, 7:00pm – 8:20pm
  • Wed 12 Aug ’15, 7:00pm – 8:20pm
  • Thu 13 Aug ’15, 7:00pm – 8:20pm

Where:

The Castle, Regan Street, Taranaki

Restrictions:

All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General admission: $15.00

Website:

Official Website

Tickets to this play are available at the St Mary's Diocesan School office.

Who was the real Helena Barnard?

A small kitchen in Eltham was the centre of a large operation during the war. Here Helena Barnard baked thousands of gingernuts, sending them overseas to give the troops a little taste of home.

Her gingernuts were smaller than average so that they could be easily carried in a pocket. But despite their size they were considered as good, if not better, than those sold in shops. Helena earned a reputation as New Zealand’s “Gingernut Lady,” her tasty biscuits becoming famous among ANZACs. This Eltham woman, therefore was the creator of the real Anzac biscuit – the gingernut.

St Mary's Diocesan School presents the real Anzac biscuit story, live on stage.

Dedicated effort

Helena Barnard’s war efforts went beyond the kitchen. She also knitted clothes for the troops and raised funds for an ambulance in France.

To acknowledge her dedication the Eltham community presented her with this illuminated address and some money in 1918. The address shows Helena and her husband Henry along with their six sons who served in the war.

Two of those sons were killed in action. Helena and Henry’s wish was to use the money they received to visit their son’s graves when the “cruel war” was over.

“Little luxuries”

Before packing them into tins, Helena wrapped her gingernuts in newspaper so that soldiers would have some fresh news to read while they snacked. She reported that the many letters of thanks she received made the whole effort worthwhile.

When World War Two broke out Helena started baking again, despite being in her 80s. Newspapers estimated that she made over 4000 kilograms of gingernuts during both World Wars, an effort that earned her a British Empire Medal.

There is currently an exhibition at Puke Ariki where Helena’s story is highlighted: http://pukeariki.com/Exhibitions/Bringing-It-Home/Bringing-Home-The-Stories-Womens-War/Gingernuts-For-The-Boys. You will additionally find Helena’s famous gingernut recipe on this link!

Her story also appeared on TVNZ’s Seven Sharp programme: http://tvnz.co.nz/seven-sharp/current-anzac-biscuit-imposter-video-6297378

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