The martyrs of Ripa
This 1980 ‘Spectrum’ radio documentary examines the treatment of a group of conscientious objectors who refused to take part in national military training. The 13 young men were held on Ripapa (also known as Ripa) Island, in Lyttelton Harbour near Christchurch, for some months during 1913. Their treatment was sometimes harsh, and when their case was made public they were dubbed by the press ‘The martyrs of Ripa’.
A matter of principle
Duncan McCormack was a working-class socialist. At the outbreak of World War I, he determined that he would not participate in what he later called a “fight to redistribute the spoils of colonialism.” When conscription was introduced, he ignored his call-up papers and was eventually arrested by the military police. Here he describes the cycle of military camp, court martial, prison and hard labour which conscientious objectors were subjected to for the remaining duration of the war and beyond. As his second prison sentence was for two years, he was kept in prison even after the war ended.