Following on from the success of Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli, the First World War Centenary Programme (WW100) has released the final part of its legacy project, Ngā Tapuwae Western Front.
“The trails are a fascinating way of exploring the past, blending audio narratives, maps, photographs, background information, oral history, original accounts, and practical travel information into a single, accessible resource,” says Chief Historian for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Neill Atkinson.
Image showing one of the interactive maps.
The Western Front trails explore First World War sites of significance for New Zealanders and are located in France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Five trails in Belgium focus on the battlefield at Passchendaele and Messines, four trails in France explore the famous Arras tunnels and Somme battlefields, and the trail in the United Kingdom lets you discover the former New Zealand hospitals and training camps.
Ngā Tapuwae Western Front also takes you behind the frontline where you can learn about where wounded soldiers were treated, their training and recreational activities, and the towns in which they were billeted.
“The Trails help us understand the ordeal that many of our ancestors endured on the Western Front by transporting people back in time. Visiting the peaceful rural landscapes and quaint villages of the Somme or Flanders today, it can be hard to imagine that these were once devastated war zones,” says Neill.
One of the main features of the Western Front Trails is a smartphone and tablet app, which gives people the full immersive experience.
Writings from WWI soldiers including from Private Neil Ingram.
New Zealand Historian, Chris Pugsley who narrated the audio guides for both Ngā Tapuwae Western Front and Gallipoli, found it an amazing experience.
“I had walked the ground many times over the last 35 years, but it was interesting to work out how to tell key stories in short cogent sound bites and in words that would make New Zealand's achievements in both defeat and victory come alive, not just for my generation but for generations to follow.
“My part was easy, as I got to speak about what I knew. The clever part of the guide is the skill in which the stories and images of the day have been woven together in a captivating and linked series of trails which put New Zealand's story into the context of the wider World War,” says Chris.
WW100 Director, Sarah Davies is very pleased with the legacy project and thinks the Western Front Trails are particularly timely.
“In 2016 our centenary commemorations will move from Gallipoli to the Western Front. Next year there will be ceremonies in both New Zealand and in France to commemorate the 100th Anzac Day and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme,” says Sarah.
The Trails have been designed for the traveller who plans to visit the Western Front and as an informative guide for those exploring from home. There are three ways that people can experience the Western Front Trails: download the smartphone or tablet app, explore the trail highlights on the website, or print off the paper guides.
To discover Ngā Tapuwae Western Front and to download the app, visit www.ngatapuwae.nz.
To learn more about the 2016 commemorations, visit ww100.govt.nz/national-ceremonies.
For more information contact:
Senior Communications and Engagement Adviser
WW100 – First World War Centenary Programme
PH: 021 436 561 or 04 499 4229 xtn 327