Two Northland volunteer researchers are on a quest to record every military camp in Northland during World War II.

Jack Kemp of Kerikeri and Bill Guthrie of Doubtless Bay have a long fascination with the military presence in Northland during the conflict, and are collating an inventory of military camps and other sites before they are lost.

Heritage New Zealand's Northland manager, Bill Edwards, said during the early 1940s military camps associated with the US Marines, who were going to be sent to fight in the Pacific, proliferated in Northland.

"The people associated with these camps have mostly passed on ... Evidence of these places is also often quite ephemeral, so it's important to record them now."

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Mr Kemp has been involved with a proposed WWII museum in Vanuatu while Dr Guthrie is a former professor at the University of Macau whose father-in-law was a bomber pilot at Guadalcanal and whose father served in the Medical Corps.

It's still early days for the project but initial research has already paid off, Mr Kemp said.

"We were recently advised of a new subdivision planned west of Kamo near Whangarei. We cross-checked against information that had been gathered on the area and it turns out the subdivision will be built on the site of what was the C1 Marine camp.

"The story of the Marines in Northland is not particularly well known so this provides an opportunity to mark the history of the area through street names and possibly interpretation so people will be able to understand what went on here over 70 years ago, and the impact on our history."

The two volunteers are starting with military camps although the inventory is likely to expand to include other World War II sites such as airfields, bunkers and gun emplacements.

Mr Edwards said World War II was relatively recent but in ways that made its history all the more vulnerable to loss.

"We can't take it for granted, and instead have to be proactive and record as much information as we can about this important part of our heritage."

• Anyone with information about military bases in Northland during World War II, or related information, can contact Mr Edwards on bedwards@heritage.org.nz or (09) 407 0471.