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This film is of the first World War One conscription ballot held under the Military Service Act 1916, at Routh’s Building in Wellington on 16 November 1916, to make up shortages in the 23rd and 24th reinforcements. It was filmed by Sydney Taylor, the Government Cameraman, for historical purposes and was never publicly screened. It also includes rare glimpses of two well known public figures from the time: Harry Holland, the leader of the Labour Party, who was at the Government Statisticians Office overseeing the ballot as press representative for the Maoriland Worker, and Wellington Mayor J. P. Luke, who also oversaw the ballot.

The Evening Post reported: “[t]he Government Statistician (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was in charge of the operations, and the supervising magistrate was Mr S. E. McCarthy, S.M. The invited spectators were:-- The Mayor (Mr. J. P. Luke), the President of the Trades Council (Mr. M. J. Reardon), and six press representatives. No one else was present who had not work to do in connection with the ballot; save for two photographers and a cinematograph operator. Nowadays everything is recorded for the moving pictures, and the first ballot under the Military Service Act was no exception. The cinema came and was clicking away busily...” (Evening Post, 16 November 1916, p.7)

The New Zealand Truth, in its typical style, described events in a more colourful way. The ballot was “An Epoch Making Event in New Zealand’s History” and “the first gamble in human life”. It was also pointed out that the women who are seen in the film drawing registration cards could possibly “draw their sweetheart’s cards as time goes on”. (Truth, 18 November 1916, p.6)

A film was also taken of the staff of the Government Statistics Department after the ballot, shot by the same cameraman Sydney Taylor (see F3484).

From notes by Chris Pugsley.

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Year 1916

Reference number F9351

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Actuality

Duration 0:04:00

Production company Department of Agriculture

Credits Camera: Sydney Benjamin Taylor

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