Film-maker Sir Peter Jackson says the new World War I museum he is curating will avoid fusty military tactics and the minutiae of the conflict and focus on New Zealand soldiers and their experiences, right down to the smell of the dirt in their trenches.

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit director is a military enthusiast and has been recruited by the Government to set up a temporary commemoration exhibition in a historic building behind the National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

Sir Peter was expected to gather aircraft, tanks and other replica artefacts from the Auckland War Memorial Museum, private collections and Defence Force service museums and exhibit them in the cavernous Dominion Museum Building.

At the announcement of the project yesterday, Sir Peter said most New Zealanders had a tangible connection to the war through their relatives, and he would attempt to capture their stories in the exhibition.


His great uncle died while fighting for the Welsh Army in 1916, and his grandfather was injured on the Somme battlefield on July 1, 1916.

Prime Minister John Key said the museum would evolve over time as Massey University, the owners of the building, gradually vacated the rooms.

The exhibition was expected to be opened in April.