John Drummond's opera about Archibald Baxter

Otago based musicologist and composer John Drummond has written a new opera called 'War Hero', which is based upon the experiences of Archibald Baxter. The opera will open on 22nd July 2017. It's great to see the memory of Baxter continuing to serve as a source of inspiration, and we look forward to this special event. Please refer to Opera Otago website for details:

2017 Schools and Tertiary Institutions Video Competition

Instead of an essay competition, the Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust will host a video competition this year. Entries will consist of 5 minute YouTube videos and will be open to students of high schools (age 11 upwards) and tertiary institutions. Both categories will be awarded equal prizes - $500 plus three books for the winner and two further prizes of three books for the runners up (six prizes in all). The theme will be "Building Peace in the 21st Century” and take its inspiration from the pacifist stance of Archibald Baxter – a prominent peace activist and conscientious objector during the First World War. Entries will be taken up until 5pm 24th July, and the winners will be announced via this web site on World Peace Day, September 21st. More details about the competition can be found here 2017 Memorial Video Rules

2017 Peace Events

2017 is looking to be a big year for peace-related events. We are planning for our now traditional peace lecture in August or September, likely to be delivered by a speaker with an international reputation in world affairs. We will also be hosting a national schools and tertiary competition for 5-minute videos on a peace-related topic (to replace the essay competition for schools), with generous prizes. Some of the other 2017 highlights will be:


  • A Mass for Peace by City Choir Dunedin, at which peace poppies will be worn, on 1 st April
  •  The world premiere of Prof John Drummond’s opera about Archie, War Hero, in Dunedin on 22nd July
  •  The centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele – more New Zealanders were killed on 12th October 1917 than on any other day in our history
  • A “truth and reconciliation” event organised by Assoc Prof Martin Tolich involving the families of conscientious objectors (October)
  • A conference on pacifism, entitled “Rethinking Pacifism for Today”, to be organised by Prof Richard Jackson (Peace and Conflict Studies) and held 22nd – 24th November
  • Prof David Tombs has written a chapter on Archibald Baxter’s Christian Faith in a book to be released in 2017; Geoffrey Troughton, ed., Saints and Stirrers (to be published by Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2017)
  • Penny Griffith's book Out of the Shadows - The Life of Millicent Baxter is selling very well in bookshops and from and it is now also available from

Press Release: Baxter Memorial a Step Closer

Public recognition of WWI war resister Archibald Baxter is a step closer following the selection of three finalists in a competition to build a memorial in the Otago
Museum Reserve.  In 1917, with 13 fellow conscientious objectors from Otago, Baxter was deported to the Western Front on the troopship Waitemata and subjected to threats and physical abuse for his refusal to serve in the army, culminating in his subjection to Field Punishment No. 1. He remained deeply opposed to war throughout his life.
The competition was organised by the Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust, and the judging panel included Trust members, members of the Baxter family, representatives from the Dunedin City Council and the Dunedin School of Art at Otago Polytechnic. Alan Jackson, the trust’s honorary secretary, said that the completed memorial will honour Baxter and his companions in a reflective sculptural setting that will offer visitors the chance to contemplate their sacrifice and consider alternatives to war.He added that at present there is no memorial in New Zealand to Baxter or indeed any of the country’s conscientious objectors in any war.
Mr Jackson said that the three finalists were chosen from a very strong field following a rigorous selection process. They are sculptor Peter Nicholls of Dunedin; the Baxter Design Group of Queenstown (no relation to Archibald’s family); and metal engineer and sculptor Lawrie Forbes and sculptor Stuart Griffiths, both of Dunedin, who submitted a joint entry.
Each finalist has been given $1500 to progress their design and they have until 31st January 2016 to complete their revised submissions for the selection of the winning design. The winner will receive $15 000 to develop the design to the final stage with ‘every i dotted and t crossed’. The trust hopes that the memorial will be in place by March 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of Baxter’s arrest in Dunedin.
Mr Jackson added that further information about the trust and the memorial can be found on the trust’s website, where supporters would also have the opportunity to donate to the considerable costs involved in the project.

The Archibald Baxter Memorial Lecture 2015

The annual Archibald Baxter Memorial Lecture will be delivered this year by Prof David Tombs (Howard Paterson Chair of Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago) on Monday 21st September at 5.15pm at the University.

David has worked in Belfast on Peace and Reconciliation and has led several successful seminars here since he arrived in late January this year. His theme for the Lecture is Torture.

The prizes for the school essay winners will be awarded at the same time.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is to be the Memorial Lecturer next year.

The Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust

Welcome to the Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust online.

Archibald Baxter is New Zealand’s best-known conscientious objector, and father of poet James K. Baxter. Archibald steadfastly endured the suffering caused by his decision to reject military service during the First World War. Transported to France and exposed to the horrors of frontline warfare, Archie and his fellow objectors have left New Zealand a legacy of principled resistance to war that is today more relevant than ever in our conflict-ridden world.

The trust has ambitious plans to honour Archibald Baxter and other conscientious objectors from New Zealand during these centennial years (2014–18).  These include the creation of a memorial garden, an annual peace lecture and an essay competition for secondary school students.

Archibald Baxter Memorial Lecture

The inaugural Archibald Baxter Memorial Lecture was delivered on Monday 22 September at 5pm in the Archway 1 lecture theatre at the University of Otago. The lecture was given by Prof Henry Reynolds of the University of Tasmania, who has written extensively on the conflict between European settlers and indigenous peoples in Australia. His latest book isForgotten War (2013).

At the lecture, awards were presented to the winners of the inaugural secondary schools’ essay competition. Four prizes were given:

1st Modi Deng – Columba College
2nd Jeremy Hadfield – Bayfield High School
3rd Elizabeth Graham – Columba College

1st Rhys Davie – Tokomairiro High School