WW100 – New Zealand's First World War Centenary Programme ran from 2014 to 2019

Please note this site has been archived


Lest we forget – Save New Zealand’s memories of war

War in the twentieth century was an unforgettable and powerful experience for many individual New Zealanders, and a defining stage in the evolution of New Zealand as a nation.
As those New Zealanders who lived through war leave us, it is important that their war experiences are not forgotten. We owe it to future generations of New Zealanders to preserve as much as possible of the human evidence of wartime - the triumphs and the tragedies, the boredoms and the excitements.
We are encouraging New Zealanders to use the First World War centenary as an opportunity to save this precious heritage before it is too late.

What to save
Many people underestimate the value of the historical records in their possession. They may imagine that museums and libraries will only be interested in the heroic and the powerful. This is far from the case. War affected everybody, and to preserve that sense of its all-encompassing impact we must preserve the records of the ordinary and the domestic as well as of the heroic.
Virtually any form of evidence is worth saving:

  • Letters
  • Diaries
  • Memoirs
  • Ephemera such as pamphlets or ration books or posters
  • Photographs and negatives
  • Souvenirs and trinkets
  • Medals
  • Taped interviews and oral histories
  • Film (see warning below)
  • Music
  • Clothing and textiles

Many kinds of wartime experience are worth remembering. This includes the records of:

  • Service people – soldiers, sailors, airmen
  • Nurses
  • Volunteers and other workers in support organisations
  • Conscientious objectors and others opposed to war
  • Prisoners of war and internees
  • Wives making ‘do’ while spouses were away
  • Children sent away from their homes
  • Refugees from war-torn countries
  • War brides
  • New Zealanders with links to enemy states
  • The return of servicemen after their war service
  • Workers – those “man-powered” and women taking up paid work

Where to find the records
If one of your family members lived through a war, look for letters and other memorabilia; or ask friends or relatives with whom your relative might have corresponded.
If you are of a younger generation, ask those members of your family or older friends and acquaintances about their connections to people alive during wartime. Ask if they have any letters or photographs in their possession. Reassure them that the memory of their war, however apparently unimportant, is worth saving for posterity.
When an older family member dies, make sure that you examine all the documents and letters for items of historical interest before they are thrown out. Remember it is better to save too much, than save too little.

Preparing the Deposit
Before giving the material it is helpful to find out all you can about the person concerned; or if the material is from your own life (for example memoirs of conversations with a father or other relative who served or was alive during wartime), try to record the relevant dates and, in the case of photographs, name the people if you can. If you are able to do so, write this background up yourself. If not, make sure that you tell the archivist or librarian or curator the information. Future users of the material will be very grateful if they understand the context of what they are looking at.
If you have film material relating to the First World War it is likely to have been produced on 35 mm Cellulose Nitrate film stock. This is an unstable film format and needs careful handling and transportation. For information and advice, see the contact details for Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision below.

Contacting a Repository
Once you have found some material which appears worth saving, seek the agreement of other members of the family to the idea of giving the material to a library, archive or museum.
Then contact one of the repositories named below. These will all ensure that the records are stored in a safe and secure environment for future generations to use.
Once you have contacted the library, archive or museum, remember that the donation is a gift to the future by you, and you have the right to discuss a range of options for the donation. These options, which will vary from one institution to another in accordance with their collecting policy, may include:

  • Providing copies of the originals for yourself and members of your family
  • Retaining the original, but allowing the repository to make a copy
  • Imposing restrictions on the conditions of access to the records, so as to protect confidential material during people’s lifetimes.

Once you have handed over the materials, make sure that you receive a formal receipt for the material from the repository. If you have agreed on conditions for the gift with the institution, the acknowledgement should spell out those conditions.

For more information on preserving the memories of war see: http://natlib.govt.nz/collections/caring-for-your-collections

The following are some repositories which are suitable for receiving your material and which have professional standards of care:

  • Alexander Turnbull Library

National Library of New Zealand
Corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets
PO Box 12 349
Wellington 6144
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.natlib.govt.nz
Phone: 04 474 3000 / 0800 474 300

  • Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Private Bag 92 018
Auckland 1030
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.aucklandmuseum.com
Phone: 09 306 7070 ext 7084

  • National Army Museum

PO Box 45
Waiouru 5458
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.armymuseum.co.nz/
Phone: 06 387 6911

  • Canterbury Museum

Rolleston Avenue
Christchurch 8013
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.canterburymuseum.com/
Phone: 03 366 5000  

  • Tairawhiti Museum – Te Whare Taonga o te Tairawhiti

PO Box 716
Gisborne 4040
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.tairawhitimuseum.org.nz/
Phone: 06 867 3832

  • MTG Hawke's Bay – Tai Ahuriri

PO Box 248
Napier 4140
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.mtghawkesbay.com/
Phone: 06 835 7781

  • Hocken Collections, University of Otago Library – Uare Taoka o Hākena

PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.otago.ac.nz/library/hocken/
Phone: 03 479 8868

  • National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy – Te Waka Huia O Te Taua Moana O Aotearoa

64 King Edward Parade
Torpedo Bay
Auckland 0624
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://navymuseum.co.nz/
Phone: 09 445 5186

  • Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

PO Box 11-449
Manners Street
Wellington 6142
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.ngataonga.org.nz/
Phone: 04 384 7647

  • Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

PO Box 566
Dunedin 9054
Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
Website: http://www.toituosm.com/
Phone: 03 474 2733 or 03 477 5052

  • Puke Ariki

New Plymouth District Council
Private Bag 2025
New Plymouth 4342
Website: http://www.pukeariki.com/
Phone: 06 759 6060

  • Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Private Bag 4739
Christchurch 8140
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.airforcemuseum.co.nz/
Phone: 03 343 9518

  • Rotorua Museum – Te Whare Taonga o te Arawa

Private Bag 3029
Rotorua 3046
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.rotoruamuseum.co.nz/
Phone: 07 350 1814

  • Southland Museum and Art Gallery

PO Box 1012
Invercargill 9840
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.southlandmuseum.co.nz
Phone: 03 219 9069

  • Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

PO Box 467
Wellington 6140
Email: Fill in the online enquiry form
Website: http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/
Phone: 04 381 7000

  • Waikato Museum - Te Whare Taonga o Waikato

Private Bag 3010
Hamilton 3240
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://waikatomuseum.co.nz/
Phone: 07 838 6606

  • Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History

PO Box 648
Masterton 5810
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.aratoi.org.nz/
Phone: 06 370 0001

  • Hokitika Museum

Private Bag 704
Hokitika 7842
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 03 755 6898

  • Whakatāne Museum and Research Centre – Te Whare Taonga o te Rohe o Whakatāne

PO Box 203
Whakatane 3158
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.whakatanemuseum.org.nz
Phone: 07 307 0505

  • Whanganui Regional Museum

PO Box 352
Whanganui 4540
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.wrm.org.nz/
Phone: 06 349 1110

  • The Nelson Provincial Museum – Pupuri Taonga o Te Tai Ao

PO Box 853
Nelson 7040
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.museumnp.org.nz/
Phone: 03 548 9588

  • Te Manawa Museum of Art Science and History

326 Main Street
Palmerston North 4442
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.temanawa.co.nz/home.html
Phone: 06 355 5000

  • Wairarapa Archive – Te Puranga Korero o Wairarapa

79 Queen Street
PO Box 444
Masterton 5840
Website: http://www.library.mstn.govt.nz/heritage.php
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 06 377 1195