New Zealand's World War I memorials will be at the centre of tomorrow's commemorative Anzac ceremonies around the country. They are also the focus of the latest WW100 Monumental campaign.

"New Zealanders went to monumental lengths to remember those who served and died in the First World War," WW100 First World War Centenary programme director Sarah Davies said.

"There are more than 500 public memorials across the country, and many more in schools, churches and workplaces. They were created to remember the sacrifice of the 18,000 New Zealand soldiers and nurses who lost their lives, and the many tens of thousands more who served.

"Anzac Day is a timely opportunity to encourage people to linger a little longer at these memorials, to spend a little time getting to know the names etched upon them and discover their stories."

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The WW100 team had put together information to help people trace those individual stories, and the stories behind the memorials themselves.

Historian Jock Phillips, a contributor to the Monumental campaign and author of To the Memory: New Zealand's War Memorials, said monuments offered an interesting insight into the beliefs and values of New Zealand communities in the years immediately following the war, including a strong desire to find a way to remember those New Zealand soldiers and nurses who died in the war, nearly all of whom were buried in Europe and the Middle East.

"Family and friends wanted a sacred place nearby, a kind of surrogate tomb where they could visit and remember their loved ones," he said.

Community groups formed up and down the country to realise the memorials. The form, locations and inscriptions were the subject of much discussion as people considered how to adequately acknowledge such a monumental loss.

"When you start looking at the memorials closely, they become fascinating. Almost all of them have something distinctive; it might be the inscription, it might be the way they were sculpted," he said.

All but one of New Zealand's World War I memorials were the result of mammoth community fundraising efforts, people giving generously despite the hard times.

"This is arguably the largest act of cultural patronage that this society has ever seen.

There have never been so many public works of art as in the memorials after the First World War," Mr Phillips added.

Information about the soldiers and nurses listed on memorials can be found at Auckland War Memorial Museum's online cenotaph.

World War I memorials take many forms:

* There are trees planted in honour of old boys and girls at schools in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington.
* Many towns have obelisks, statues, arches, gates or stained glass windows.
* In a few places natural features were adopted such as Lion Rock in Piha.

There are a few useful memorials. Such as Hastings which has a memorial hospital, Auckland a memorial museum and Kaiparoro a bridge. Useful memorials were not as common as they were following the World War II where most memorials took the form of halls or sports grounds.

The first memorials were dedicated within three months of the landing at Gallipoli in 1915. The most recent was in the Manukau memorial gardens in 2010.

* The New Zealand Memorials Register at NZHistory.govt.nz includes a list of more than 900 World War I memorials. Most, but not all, have photographs. There are still gaps in the records and the NZHistory team welcome contributions from the public. More details are available at: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/about-the-memorials-register

* The public are also encouraged to share stories about their local World War I memorial on social media using the hashtags #MonumentalNZ and #WW100.