NEW ZEALAND AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR
This is a guide to some of the best, free online resources available about New Zealand and World War One (WW1) including soldiers’ letters and diaries, ebooks, films, official histories and much more. It is a personal selection of the sites and resources I have found most useful and interesting while editing the letters of Harry Norton who features in War Letters 1914–1918, Vol. 5.
Where good ‘gateway’ sites to other resources exist, I have listed those rather than repeat the links.
New Zealand History Online, a site produced by the History Group of the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, provides an excellent introduction to the country’s role in the conflict.
The Encyclopaedia Of New Zealand also has a number of good short introductory articles about New Zealand and the war.
NZ WW100, the country’s official WW1 centenary website, has a good guide to other sites and sources.
The same site also has a list of the many WW1 centenary projects taking place in New Zealand.
OFFICIAL REPORTS [top]
The Appendices to the Journals of the House of Representatives (AJHR) is a collection of government-related reports published every year from 1858. The reports include many important documents from the years immediately before the war and also from the war itself.
The following is just a small selection of some of the reports available online. Many more can be found by using the browse facility for individual years.
Defence Forces Of New Zealand: Report Of The General Officer Commanding The Forces For The Period From 20th June, 1913, to 25th June, 1914, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1914 Session I, H-19.
Military Forces Of New Zealand (Report By The Inspector-General Of The Oversea Forces On The), Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1914 Session I, H-19a.
Defence Forces Of New Zealand. Report Of The General Officer Commanding The Forces From 25th June 1914, to 26th June, 1915, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1915 Session I, H-19.
Defence Forces Of New Zealand. Report Of The General Officer Commanding The Forces From 26th June, 1915, to 31st May, 1916, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1916 Session I, H-19.
Defence Forces Of New Zealand. Report Of The General Officer Commanding The Forces, From 1st June, 1916, to 31st May, 1917, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1917 Session I, H-19.
Defence Forces Of New Zealand. Report Of The General Officer Commanding The Forces, For The Period From 31st May, 1917, to 1st July, 1918, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1918 Session I-II, H-19.
Defence Forces Of New Zealand. Report Of The General Officer Commanding The Forces, For The Period From 1st July, 1918 to 30th June 1919, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1919 Session I, H-19.
War Expenses Account. Detailed Statement Of Expenditure From The Beginning Of The War To The 31st March, 1919, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1919 Session I, H-19f.
New Zealand Expeditionary Forces. Honours And Awards Bestowed On Officers, Ladies, Non-Commissioned Officers, And Men Belonging To Or Serving With The New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (Statement Showing), Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1919 Session I, H-19e.
New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Maori Reinforcements. Return Of Members Of The Above Reinforcements (A) Killed In Action, (B) Died Of Wounds, (C) Died Of Sickness, (D) Wounded, (E) Decorations Awarded To Individual Maoris, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1919 Session I, H-19g.
New Zealand Expeditionary Forces. Return Showing Summary Of Casualties Up To And Including 3rd September, 1917, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1917 Session I, H-19g.
Important reports from before the war include:
Joint Defence (Secret) Committee (Reports of the), Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1900 Session I, I-12.
Colonial Conference, 1907 (Minutes Of Proceedings of the), Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1907 Session I, A-05.
Defence Forces of New Zealand Report by the Council of Defence and by the Inspector-General of the New Zealand Defence Forces, for the Year 1907, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1907 Session I, H-19.
Naval and Military Defence of The Empire (Conference with Representatives of the Self-Governing Dominions on the), 1909, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1909 Session II, A-04a.
NZ YEARBOOKS [top]
New Zealand Yearbooks are official NZ government publications with a multitude of different facts and figures about the country providing ‘a comprehensive statistical picture of life in New Zealand since 1893.’ All the yearbooks from 1893–2012 are online and free to access.
The New Zealand Legal Information Institute has online copies of all legislation enacted in the country from 1841–2007. The acts can easily be browsed by year.
Important war legislation includes:
A collection of war legislation, orders, proclamations and regulations passed as a result of the war and in force in New Zealand on 30 September 1916 can be found in Christie, J, (ed), Manual of the War Legislation of New Zealand (Govt. Printer, Wellington, 1916).
SERVICE RECORDS [top]
New Zealand History Online has an excellent short guide to researching New Zealand soldiers in the First World War Online.
Papers Past contains more than two million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes seventy publications from all regions of New Zealand. It is free to use.
The New Zealand Journal of History, the country’s leading journal for historical research, has a number of articles about the First World War. All but the most very recent are made freely available to all.
New Zealand History online has produced an impressive seventy-two page bibliography covering almost every aspect of New Zealand’s involvement in the war. The bibliography is available to download as a PDF and as a comprehensive guide to further reading about New Zealand’s role in the war is unsurpassed.
The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has links to over 70 freely available ebooks about New Zealand in WW1, including the official campaign and official unit histories.
The New Zealand Educational Theses Database has links to full-text theses from New Zealand universities.
LETTERS AND DIARIES [top]
The National Library of New Zealand is at the centre of a major project to digitise the letters and diaries of members of the NZEF. As a work in progress, it is not without problems, not least the difficulty in searching and the fact that items are currently only available as large TIFF files.
To access a list of the items already digitised type “WW100 digitisation project” into the into the Broad Search field on the TAPUHI database.
Christchurch City Libraries have also digitised some material from the war. Their digital collection include the letters of Cecil Malthus, who later wrote two important books about his experiences.
The Cecil Malthus Letters cover his progress from training in New Zealand to his experiences throughout the war, including time in Egypt preparing for Gallipoli, and his time in France.
The war diary of H. H. Stephens, a private in the NZEF, has also been digitised.
The war diary and letters of private Alexander Mee have been put online by the Archives New Zealand Dunedin Regional Office. Mee belonged to the 14th Company, 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment, NZEF, enlisting in November 1916. He was ‘Missing Believed Killed’ in action on 12 October 1917, at the Battle of Passchendaele. The online collection includes 6 letters to his wife Jessie and numerous entries from his diary.
The New Zealand Mounted Rifles (NZMR) website has produced a valuable guide to the troopships that left New Zealand throughout the war.
Auckland Museum has been involved in a major project to digitise the troopship magazines produced by members of the NZEF. The cataloguing leaves a little to be desired, but PDFs of particular magazines can be found by scrolling through the list. Using information from the NZMR website can make this process a little easier.
Anzac Sight Sound is a site produced by Nga Taonga Sound & Vision (New Zealand’s audio-visual archive) along with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. It features film and audio clips and still images of Australia and New Zealand at war and on the homefront during the war.
NZ On Screen has films and television programmes available online which are free to watch from anywhere in the world. They have two collections of particular interest:
NZ On Screen World War 1 Collection, which has a number of television programmes made in New Zealand about the First World War.