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.
Use these websites to start your learning journey.
New Zealand and the First World War history
Researching First World War soldiers
Read a guide to researching New Zealand soldiers and related service personnel.
Cenotaph database & personnel files
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.
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
- Alexander Turnbull Library and National Library of New Zealand
- Archives New Zealand
- Auckland Libraries and Auckland Council Archives (PDF, 5.2 MB)
- Hocken Collections (PDF, 679 KB)
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.
Guides & Fact-sheets
Use these guides to look into specific areas of interest:
- Anzac Day – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- Conscientious objectors – Christchurch City Libraries
- Casualties of war (and where they are buried) – Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Identifying people in photographs – Plimmerton Community
- Gallipoli – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- Medals – New Zealand Defence Force (see also this guide to understanding medals from Plimmerton Community)
- Memorials – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- Nurses & medical personnel – Christchurch City Libraries
- Printed war histories – New Zealand Defence Force
- Soldier research – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- Understanding personnel files (abbreviations etc) – New Zealand Defence Force
- War art – Archives New Zealand
Battlefield trails and guides
- Follow in the footsteps of the Anzacs with the free Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli trail app
- Download the 42-page guide, New Zealand on the Western Front 1916-1918
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:
- Archives New Zealand
- Alexander Turnbull Library
- Auckland War Memorial Museum
- Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
- National Army Museum Te Mata Toa
- The New Zealand Defence Force Library
- Torpedo Bay Navy Museum
- Royal New Zealand Air Force Museum
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 the National Library of New Zealand catalogue for First World War diaries
- Contact the Alexander Turnbull Library Oral History centre
- Search the Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero
- Selected histories on Firstworldwar.govt.nz
- Life 100 Years Ago
Search DigitalNZ for further online sources.
Activities and ideas for teachers and families examining the experiences of New Zealanders in the First World War, and the wider issue of commemoration:
- First World War inquiry guides and resource packs - Te Kete Ipurangi
- Walking with an Anzac
- The Classroom - First World War centenary
- Life 100 Years Ago (including notes for teachers)
- First World War resource guide for schools - National Library of New Zealand
- Ministry of Education projects
- Pukeahu National War Memorial Park learning resources
- Anzac Day - the New Zealand story (book by Philipa Werry)
- The Anzac Puppy (book by Peter Millett)
- New Zealand and World War I – Teaching and Learning about the Great War (Brenda Gurr)
Share your history or donate a collection item
Websites dedicated to collecting First World War memories and stories include:
- Online Cenotaph - Auckland War Memorial Museum
- RSA Remembrance Wall
- Auckland War Memorial Museum book of remembrance
- NZ Memorials Register - Ministry for Culture & Heritage
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:
- ANZAC stories - Plimmerton Community website
- The daily diaries of Lieutenant Ralph D. Doughty - Kivell family
- Digitised war material - Christchurch City Libraries
- In memory of D. S. L. Keay (1892 - 1959) - Nigel Keay
- Information on New Zealand WW1 soldiers in the Alexander Turnbull Library - Robert Cameron
- New Zealand Tunnellers - Anthony Byledbal
- New Zealand War Graves Project
- The New Zealand Tunnelling Company website - NZETC
- From Papanui to Passchendaele - Paul O'Connor
- Passchendaele Society website
- Resource on Alexander Mee - Archives New Zealand Dunedin Office
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.