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Vietnam War Oral History

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has completed the first ever large-scale project recording the stories of New Zealand's Vietnam War veterans and their families.  The project came about as a result of the Joint Working Group of veteran and government representatives which was established in 2005 to address the concerns of Vietnam veterans.

Claire Hall managed the four-year project and together with Gareth Phipps, worked with interviewers around the country to record oral history interviews with veterans and their families.  The project also had a digital history (website) component so that people involved in the war could contribute their memories and memorabilia to a digital history archive.  The website allowed a wide variety of people to contribute to the project and also provided educational and other historical resources on New Zealand's involvement in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War Oral History Project built on previous war oral history work completed by the Ministry.  It complemented the official history of the Vietnam War (New Zealand's Vietnam War) written by Ministry historian and General Editor-War History, Ian McGibbon, together with Roberto Rabel's 2005 book, New Zealand and the Vietnam War, which surveyed the diplomatic, political, and social dimensions of New Zealand's involvement in the conflict.

We supported the Home Fires Burning exhibition which ran from April to June 2012 at Papakura Museum and have also produced a short  film which features three New Zealand veterans; nursing sister Daphne Shaw, rifleman Bruce Knight, and helicopter pilot Brian Senn reflecting on their service in Vietnam and the impact it's had on their lives. You can view this film on the Ministry's YouTube channel.

A new permanent installation of Home Fires Burning: New Zealand's Vietnam War is now on show at the Australian National Vietnam Veterans Museum in Victoria. It tells the story of New Zealand's commitment to the US-led military coalition from 1964 to 1972 and commemorates Anzac relationships forged through allegiances on the ground and in the air over South Vietnam.

Installation at the Australian National Vietnam Veterans Museum

Claire Hall has completed a book using material gathered from the project. Titled 'No front line : inside stories of New Zealand's Vietnam War', this book was published by Penguin Books in August 2014.

Vietnam War Oral History Project website.

Updated on 7th October 2019