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Online history tells story of government at war

A new online history launched today illuminates an often overlooked part of New Zealand’s First World War story, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says.

A joint effort between the State Services Commission and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, The Public Service At War tells the story of the service and sacrifice of government employees throughout the conflict.

“More than 8,000 public servants served from 1914-18, and more than 1,000 lost their lives. Their experience was an important part of New Zealand’s war effort and their story is well worth telling,” Ms Barry says.

“This online resource gives us vital insight into how our nation coped with the demands of a horrific new age of industrialised conflict.”

The outbreak of war placed an extraordinary strain on the New Zealand government, which found itself administering a vast military machine while trying to keep the country moving in a time of unprecedented shortage and disruption.

Public servants had to manage and enforce the controversial conscription law, keep the supply line to embattled Britain open and prepare the country for a possible attack by Germany.

“The story is told with a large collection of evocative images and poignant letters of condolence sent to families from grieving colleagues.” Ms Barry says.

Also included is the story of how the railways and postal service coped with the war and Rolls of Honour commemorating those who fell.

The Public Service At War can be viewed at

Updated on 5th May 2016