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Conscientious objection and dissent in the First World War

While most New Zealanders supported their country’s participation in the First World War, a small but significant group opposed it on religious, political, philosophical or personal grounds. 

Now, a century later the team behind the NZHistory website has compiled, for the first time, comprehensive lists of New Zealanders who protested against, or resisted military service in the First World War.

Anti-conscientious objection cartoon.

“This new research provides a rich resource for researchers studying the war itself, and also for family historians interested in their predecessors who resisted the war,” says project lead Tim Shoebridge, Senior Historian at Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

“People will be able to gain new insights into the lives of their forebears as a result.”

“The valuable work of Archives New Zealand in digitising all First World War military personnel files has assisted us with this project, which gives exciting new opportunities to know more about people we’ve not known much about previously.”

“In addition to the lists, copies of key archival material have also been made available on the site, to help facilitate further research into the topic.” 

Timed to coincide with Family History Month and the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Military Service Act of 1916, the new NZHistory web feature: Conscientious Objection and Dissent in the First World War includes newly-created online lists of conscientious objectors, people convicted of sedition during the war and people deprived of their civil rights for not serving.

The new content and resources can be viewed at and

Media contact

Elizabeth Bush-King

Senior Communications Advisor

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Phone 64 4 499 4229 ext 541


Updated on 6th September 2016