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.
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)
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 – NZHistory
- Conscientious objectors – Christchurch City Libraries
- Casualties of war (and where they are buried) – Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Gallipoli – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- Medals – New Zealand Defence Force
- Memorials – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- Nurses & medical personnel – Christchurch City Libraries
- Soldier research – Ministry for Culture & Heritage
- War art – Archives New Zealand
Battlefield trails and guides
- Follow in the footsteps of the Anzacs at Gallipoli and the Western Front with the Ngā Tapuwae trail
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
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
- Te Akomanga - Anzac Day and remembrance
- Pukeahu National War Memorial Education Centre
- First World War resource guide for schools - National Library of New Zealand
- Blood & Mud - Passchendaele education resource
- 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
- 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