WW100’s 2018 theme, The Darkness Before the Dawn, focuses on New Zealand’s experience of the First World War in 1918 where over 5,300 New Zealand soldiers were killed, more than in any other year of the war. But by year's end hostilities were over and the Allies had secured victory.
Throughout 2018 we're exploring the role New Zealand soldiers played in the final year of battle where they helped counter the German Spring Offensive, took part in the Hundred Days Offensive, and liberated the French town of Le Quesnoy just a week before Armistice was declared.
We're also looking back on what life was like here on the home front, where concerns over the rising cost of living, conscription, censorship and war profiteering resulted in widespread disenchantment and dissent.
This year too marks the centenary of the lethal influenza pandemic. Between October and December 1918 the pandemic landed on New Zealand shores and in just two months killed over 8600 people, half as many New Zealanders as had been killed during the whole of the First World War. No event has killed so many New Zealanders in such a short time.
While 1918 finally saw an end to battle, it was far from a year to be celebrated.
Commemorative ceremonies in 2018
- Liberation of Le Quesnoy - A national ceremony to mark the Liberation of Le Quesnoy by New Zealand soldiers will he held at the Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Le Quesnoy, France on 4 November 2018. Planning is currently underway and more information will be released in the coming months.
- Armistice Day - A national commemoration to mark the centenary of Armistice will be held on 11 Novermber 2018. Planning is currently underway and more information will be released in mid 2018.
Learn more about New Zealand's experience of war in 1918:
- 1918: Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory - Delve into the experiences of New Zealanders at war in 1918 with this informative overview from NZHistory.
- Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails - Follow in the footsteps of New Zealand soldiers in 1918 by exploring the Somme 1918 and Road to Le Quesnoy trails via the Ngā Tapuwae app or website.
- New Zealand and Le Quesnoy - Learn about the liberation of Le Quesnoy by New Zealand soldiers and the relationship between New Zealand and the small French town that still exists today.
- Policing the war effort - Explore the government's efforts to censor mail communications and newspaper reporting, and supress 'sedition' during the course of the First World War.
- Armistice Day - Learn about the Armistice that brought an end to the First World War - and the response from New Zealanders at home and abroad.
- The 1918 influenza pandemic - The 1918 influenza pandemic caused devastation across the globe, and New Zealand wasn't immune.