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First World War Centenary Projects

The Delivery Group of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage is developing a series of print and digital projects to commemorate the centenary of the First World War in 2014-19. At the moment we are working on a major web project and a series of books exploring the impact of the war on New Zealand society during and after the conflict. Further projects will be developed over the coming years.

Centenary history programme in print and online

The Ministry, Massey University, the New Zealand Defence Force and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association are jointly producing a series of authoritative histories on New Zealand and the First World War.

The books in the Centenary History Programme will cover the major campaigns in Europe and the Middle East, New Zealanders’ contributions in the air and at sea, the experiences of soldiers at the front and civilians at home, the Māori war effort, and the war’s impact and legacy. Leading New Zealand historians are working on the first books in the series, which will appear between 2013 and 2019.

Read the list of published and planned books here.

Whitiki: Māori in the First World War

Dr Monty Soutar, who wrote the award-winning publication Nga Tama Toa: C Company, 28th Māori Battalion, is in his third year of research for this new book about the some 2,500 Māori and Pacific Island people who served overseas. This book is due for publication in 2018.

Western Front history

This overview of New Zealanders’ experiences on the Western Front was written by leading military historian Dr Ian McGibbon. Since the first official history of the New Zealand Division on the Western Front was published in 1921, no scholarly overview volume has been written, until now.  Dr McGibbon's book New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign published by David Bateman Ltd in September 2016, is now available in bookstores and online at batemanpublishing.co.nz.

New Zealand’s most traumatic military campaign revealed

A guide to First World War heritage sites in New Zealand

The First World War took thousands of young New Zealand men across the globe to fight in foreign fields, but it was also an event which happened at home. This guide take readers on a tour of sites throughout New Zealand of significance to the country’s experience of the war. There is a broad range of sites which bear upon military, political, economic, and social aspects of New Zealand’s war experience. It also describes sites that developed after the war, such as selected memorials and streets named after campaigns. As a story of the domestic experience of the war, it will be of interest to a general audience.

Historians Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge completed this book in April 2015.

The book New Zealand's First World War Heritage can be purchased in print and as an e-book from Exisle Publishing.

Compelling new book on life at home during the First World War

New Zealand's hospital ships

In 1915 the government chartered the trans-Tasman liners Maheno and Marama for use as our first hospital ships. For the next four years, starting with the Maheno off the beach at Gallipoli, they travelled the globe, staffed by Kiwi seamen, doctors and nurses. Back home, thousands of New Zealanders made items and raised money to support these 'mercy ships' and followed their movements closely as they transported the sick and wounded from many countries. Gavin McLean has published the first detailed history of this remarkable contribution to our First World War effort in his book 'The White Ships : New Zealand's First World War hospital ships'

Released in October 2013, the book is published by  the New Zealand Ship & Marine Society.

First World War illustrated history

Former Ministry Senior Historian Damien Fenton has completed a highly illustrated print publication published by Penguin Books. This is a general overview of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War, aimed at the non-specialist reader and covering events on the battlefields and at home. An interactive or ‘engineered paper’ book, it is highly visual, full colour and include facsimiles of contemporary diaries, maps, posters and a range of other memorabilia inserted into the publication. 

This book 'New Zealand and the First World War 1914-1919'  was released in November 2013. More details are on Penguin Book's website.

As well as featuring pull-out ‘paper engineering’ memorabilia, the book includes a QR code on the slipcase which links readers with smartphones/tablets to online resources, accessible through this specially created ‘landing page’ in the firstworldwar.govt.nz section of NZHistory.net.nz.

Landing page for New Zealand and the First World War publication.

First World War website

The NZHistory web team are developing a major web resource on New Zealand’s experience of the war, which will be hosted on New Zealand’s leading history website, NZHistory. The team is combining existing content with extensive new material to build New Zealand’s most comprehensive online resource on the world at war, the major campaigns, the soldier’s experience, the main NZEF units, the home front, post-war memorialisation and many other subjects. 

First World War website

Centenary history exhibition

The New Zealand Portrait Gallery staged the first major commemoration of the start of the First World War 100 years ago with a moving, colourful and varied exhibition. Curated by the Ministry's Senior Historian Gavin McLean, Facing the Front: New Zealand's Enduring First World War featured about 70 paintings, drawings, busts and other items illustrating the country's participation in what became known as "The Great War". The exhibition at the gallery on Wellington's Queen's Wharf ran from June to August 2014.

First major commemoration of WW1 centenary

Cenotaph project

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is leading an initiative to bring the First World War Centenary closer to New Zealand families.

The Cenotaph Database will be a starting point for families, schools, communities, researchers and people all over the world to explore content held about our soldiers. A page will be included for every New Zealand soldier who served in the First World War.

The Cenotaph Database project is being run in conjunction with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Te Papa, Archives New Zealand, the National Library including the Alexander Turnbull Library and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

In May 2015, Auckland War Memorial Museum announced that a roadshow unit accompanied by knowledgeable staff from the Museum, will tour the former Auckland Province over the next four years of the centenary, from Cape Reinga to Taupo. The programme encourages communities to explore and add to the Online Cenotaph database.

Auckland Museum's Cenotaph Database

Auckland War Memorial Museum Creates Lasting Legacy with WW100 Community Programme

WW100

The Government has a number of centenary legacy projects in the pipeline.  The centenary programme will include a wide range of activities and events for New Zealanders to participate in – both at home and overseas. All New Zealanders are encouraged to engage in the programme in some way either by attending a commemorative event or learning more about their family’s military service history.

More information about the opportunities available to New Zealanders is available through http://ww100.govt.nz.

Dates for key New Zealand domestic and overseas commemorative and ceremonial events which will be marked during the First World War centenary from 2014 to 2019 were announced by the Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister in September 2013.  Details about the different themes of the experiences of the First World War were announced in July 2014.

First World War centenary military commemoration dates announced

WW100 First World War Centenary Programme announced

Other legacy projects

Two other legacy projects are the education centre and heritage trails. The  Queen Elizabeth II Pukeahu Education Centre which opened in August 2016, will be a significant addition to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park as the memorial is currently a place of remembrance but contains little to tell the stories behind what is being commemorated. 

Queen Elizabeth II Pukeahu Education Centre opens

Two heritage site interpretation projects (also called ‘heritage trails’) in Gallipoli and the Western Front have been developed in parallel.  In March 2015 a free smartphone and tablet app was published, offering a new way to explore the Gallipoli campaign. The Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli app features compelling diary entries from the First World War, with clear facts, authentic and beautiful imagery as well as audio tours narrated by leading historians.  The Western Front app was released later in October 2015.

Ngā Tapuwae - New Zealand First World War Trails

New Gallipoli app launched [18 March 2015]

Interactive trail guides New Zealanders on the Western Front [19 October 2015]

Image of the Wellington interpretative sign is courtesy of Mark Tantrum.

An interpretative sign  was unveiled on 16 October 2014 on the waterfront promenade in front of Te Papa in Wellington.

WW100 website

New Zealand Centenary of Departure of Troops

First World War commemorative museum exhibition announced


Updated on 26th October 2017