About Luck of the Draw

100 years ago a man's fate could be decided by the numbers etched onto wooden balls, drawn at random from spinning barrels...

The project

To reflect on the issue of conscription 100 years on, the First World War Centenary Programme Office (WW100) asked several emerging artists aged between 18 and 25 to respond to film footage of the first conscription ballot now housed at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. 

These diverse artists offered their views on this significant chapter of the First World War through dance, illustration, song, film and playwriting. Their works will spark new conversations around conscription, war and the luck of the draw that forced some men to serve their King and Country.

Commissioned by WW100, the Luck of the Draw project was put together by Transmit, with the assistance of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and Te Papa.

The history

'By 1916, two years after the First World War had begun, the number of men volunteering to join New Zealand’s military forces overseas had fallen dramatically. To make up the shortfall, in August of that year the New Zealand Government introduced conscription (or compulsory enlistment for military service). 

Three months later, on 16 November 1916, the first monthly ballot was held in Wellington. Film footage shows registration cards with census data of almost all New Zealand men between the ages of 20 and 45 being laid out in boxes on long tables. Their numbers were transferred onto wooden balls which were placed in a rotating barrel and randomly selected. These men were informed by letter a few days later that they were legally in the army. In total, 19,548 New Zealand men were conscripted and sent overseas in 1917 and 1918.

AROHA AND THANKS

Aroha and thanks to the artists for choosing to go on the Luck of The Draw journey.

Luck of The Draw Artists : Akshay Dongardive with Anish Patel for The Disciples, Kauri Hawkins, Liam Hoffman, Nathan Joe, Etanah Lalau, MC Oblique, Madison Nonoa and Moana Williams.

Thanks Kirstie Ross and Te Papa, Erolia, Daria Malesic, Hamish McCormick, Paul Wedel, Kava Club and Hills Hats for project support. Respect Dr Thomas and Koa at Rhombus Studio for sonic music production. Thanks Inject Design LOTD branding and Brave Media website build.

Project concept, Luck of The Draw Director and Creative Producer Sarah Hunter, Transmit for WW100 in association with Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and Te Papa.