Author(s): Ron Crosby
Andris, Where Are You? tells the family story of renowned New Zealand photographer Andris Apse, who when middle aged, discovered that his father Voldemars, believed to be dead for 40 years, was still alive in Latvia. Told largely through insightful pre-war diary entries by Voldemars Apse, as well as correspondence between Voldemars and his wife Kamilla, both before and during the war, this book describes the horrendous effects of war and the Soviet and German occupation on an ordinary rural Latvian family. For years after the war Kamilla and her baby Andris lived in West Germany in a refugee camp, but came to understand that Voldemars had died in the war, or in the Soviet gulag prison camps. Consequently, Kamilla and five-year-old Andris emigrated to New Zealand as refugees. Over time Andris became one of New Zealand’s most successful landscape photographers, and raised his own family. Following the breakdown of the Soviet Union, Kamilla and Andris miraculously discovered that Voldemars was still alive in Latvia. Andris arranged to take Kamilla, who was now in her seventies, back to Latvia. When they reunited in Riga, husband met wife, and son met father for the first time in over 40 years. This story of heart-rending separation and joyful rediscovery will touch a chord with all parents and everyone with a sense of history and the importance of family. Andris’s remarkable tale was first published as a large format photographic book, which was serialised by National Radio, and his life and photography has also featured in a 2010 TVNZ documentary ‘Through My Eyes’.
Ron Crosby is a lawyer, historian and biographer and is a personal friend of Andris Apse. He recently received the 2013 Ministry of Culture and Heritage history research award to write a history of the kupapa Maori who fought with the Crown in the New Zealand wars. His other publications include NZSAS: The first fifty years, Gilbert Mair: Te Kooti’s nemesis and A Desperate Dawn: The battle for Turuturu Mokai 1868.