The military service files of thousands of New Zealand soldiers who served in the First World War are now available online for the first time.

The enormous and vastly complicated digitisation project will be welcomed by both professional and amateur genealogists and historians alike.

Archives New Zealand staff identified over 141,000 files, scanned the often crumbling, fragile pages and then digitised them and published them online.

The files tell stories of how men and women signed up for the war effort.


It shows their history sheet, providing pre-war occupations, religious persuasion, and next of kin details.

Often, medical assessments are included and tell of their state of health before being sent to fight the Germans and their allies on the other side of the world. The files also give details of when they shipped out, where they were posted, and when they fell ill, became wounded, or when, and sometimes how, they died.

"As the keeper of the public record, Archives New Zealand is proud to make this fascinating, sometimes poignant, record available to everyone," said Chief Archivist, Marilyn Little.

All 141,000 files, made available by Archives New Zealand and the National Library, can now be accessed at:

The National Library, through the Alexander Turnbull Library, has also now made the a series of official war photographs available online.

The 'H Series' images were taken by the official war photographer, Henry Armytage Sanders and provide the most comprehensive visual record of New Zealanders on the Western front from 1917 to 1918.

It is the first Alexander Turnbull Library collection to be released into the public domain under a new National Library policy that allows reuse without any restrictions.