The Heritage Services Branch 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 2018.
The Ministry is also developing comprehensive online resources, including resources for school students and teachers, at www.firstworldwar.govt.nz.
Western Front history
This overview of New Zealanders’ experiences on the Western Front is being written by leading military historian Ian McGibbon and is due to be published in 2016.
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 will 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, such as drill halls, embarkation points, training facilities, hospitals and recuperative facilities, veterans’ homes, patriotic organisations, sites of leisure and recreation. It will also describe 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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 12 to August 24 2014.
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 Libraries and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
Historic WWI photographs by William Berry were displayed on Wellington buildings in October 2014.
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.
Other legacy projects
Two other legacy projects in development are the education and interpretation centre and heritage trails. The proposed education and interpretation centre will be a significant addition to the 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. Cabinet has considered and agreed a proposal for a feasibility study on incorporating the Dominion Museum building as part of the National War Memorial Precinct. In the interim, a temporary smaller scale museum for the first years of the WW1 Centenary is planned to incorporate the Interpretation and Education Centre for the Park.
Two heritage site interpretation projects (also called ‘heritage trails’) in Gallipoli and the Western Front will be developed in parallel. The contract for the heritage trails was signed on 11 April 2014 and the overall design of all components has been completed. Production and implementation of the digital media and the Gallipoli heritage trail components started in August 2014.
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.