Sites & sources

A selection of sites and sources for learning about the history of the First World War from a New Zealand perspective, and the role your family members might have played in it.

Soldiers in a library reading

Soldiers inside the YMCA library in Beauvois, FranceRef: 1/2-013635-G. Courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Starting Places

Use these websites to start your learning journey.

New Zealand and the First World War history

Get an overview of the history of New Zealand and the First World War. See also the WW100 timeline.

Researching First World War soldiers

Read a guide to researching New Zealand soldiers and related service personnel.

Cenotaph database & personnel files

Discover whether someone in your family served. The Online Cenotaph holds a basic record for most New Zealanders who served in the First World War, and will be redeveloped for WW100

Use personnel files to get more detail about First World War soldiers, from Archives New Zealand. These are being digitised and made available online for the centenary, and many are linked to from records for service personnel on the Online Cenotaph.

A guide to understanding personnel files is available. Note the following information regarding formats.

Digital New Zealand search

Search Digital NZ to find out what online collections of photos, memorabilia, newspaper cuttings, videos and so on are available from New Zealand galleries, libraries, archives, museums and other sources. We have a war-specific version of this search on our website.

Filter by ‘usage rights’ to see how you can use the material you find.

Further sites and sources

Anzac Sights & Sounds showcases audio-visual material related to the war held by archives in Australia and New Zealand.

The War Letters 1914-1918 website has an excellent guide to online resources about New Zealand and the First World War, organised by format.

Visit your local library, archive or museum

Your local library, archive, or museum is also a really good place to start. Try to think of three specific questions to guide your search for information. If you’re researching family members it’s helpful to gather some basic facts first.

Guides to specific collections

Overseas sources

Bibliography of First World War sources

The Ministry for Culture & Heritage has compiled a list of general sources for further reading about New Zealand's First World War experience. A comprehensive bibliography of books, articles and theses relating to New Zealand’s role in the First World War has also been compiled by Tim Shoebridge.

Download the detailed bibliography (PDF, 1 MB)

Access the general bibliography

Guides & Fact-sheets

Use these guides to look into specific areas of interest:

Battlefield trails and guides

Military History Collections

Most New Zealand libraries, archives and museums have some material relating to the First World War. The main military history collections (not all available online) are held by:

Victoria University of Wellington's New Zealand Electronic Text Collection also has a major online collection of First World War histories, including the campaign histories and the regimental histories covering New Zealand's involvement in the First World War.

First-hand accounts of wartime experiences can be found at the following sites:

Search DigitalNZ for further online sources.

For teachers & families

Activities and ideas for teachers and families examining the experiences of New Zealanders in the First World War, and the wider issue of commemoration:

See also ManyAnswers for homework enquiries and student support - including on World War One, and also Gallipoli 100 for British educational resources and ideas.

Share your history or donate a collection item

Websites dedicated to collecting First World War memories and stories include:

Your local library might have a community Kete or other website that you can share your story or memorabilia with, such as this one from Tararua, or The Prow in Nelson. For larger digital collections, contact DigitalNZ.

You can also talk with your local library, archive or museum (or one of the major collecting institutions listed above under 'Military history collections') about donating material if you don't want to keep it within your family. You can view a list of institutions which might be interested in our Lest We Forget - Save New Zealand's Memories of War guide. Some organisations may take a digital copy and return the original for you to keep.

Personal & community websites

Many organisations and individuals have created First World War websites. These hold a wealth of interesting stories and histories:

Further sources

We welcome suggestions of authoritative and useful web resources for this page (which is not intended to be exhaustive).

Please email us if you would like a website or online source to be considered by the WW100 website editor for inclusion, including:

  • the name of the site
  • its purpose
  • who is responsible for maintaining it & (if possible) an indication of
  • how many people are currently using it.