Trails, exhibitions and events are being held to remember those New Zealanders caught up in World War I 100 years ago

New Zealand 100 years ago seems like a foreign country to our modern eyes. Ever the loyal dominion of the British Empire, we entered the Great War on August 5, 1914. This first international, industrial-scale war transformed the country -- 100,000 men and 550 women from a total population of 1 million served overseas. But in the next five years, historians, educators and story-tellers are keen that today's New Zealanders understand what that meant for our people. The first of the commemorations kick off on Tuesday, with events and exhibitions running through August and September.

Many of the activities are designed for youngsters -- a generation that has revived the interest in the annual Anzac commemorations at Gallipoli -- and to celebrate the humanity and stories of the 18,000 dead, the 41,000 wounded, their comrades, and the lives of the families left behind.

Explore the sites

• Auckland Heritage Trail

The Auckland Council's key project for the centenary is the First World War Heritage Trail, a unique discovery of the key people and places on the home front rather than the battlefields overseas.


The trail's themes -- going to war, training, administration and defence, economic war effort, home front, opposition to the war, and enemy aliens and rehabilitation and remembrance -- were developed by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage for its book about New Zealand's First World War (see opposite page to go in the draw to win this).

Using the free STQRY app on a smartphone, visitors can scan the QR code at each of the 56 sites from Wellsford to Waiuku to get more in-depth information and links to other relevant sites or online stories. The trail goes live from the beginning of September and will run until August 2019.

"We hope this will be a starting point for people to explore what this time period meant for their local community and the wider region," says Kaye Oliver, who is heading the team co-ordinating all the centenary activities around the region.

"It was not possible to include every First World War-related site or memorial on this trail.

"Rather the trail reveals a representative sample of sites covering the themes across the region."

• Tauranga Fields of Remembrance

Part of the national fields of remembrance project co-ordinated by WW100 Tauranga (the group includes local RSAs, council and heritage organisations) 107 crosses have been made by volunteers at the Tauranga Men's Shed.

On the anniversary of the first action of the war -- the capture of German Samoa on August 29 -- the crosses, representing the 90 names on the Tauranga Domain War Memorial plus an additional 17 men researched by the Tauranga Heritage Collection, will be placed in the ground in a ceremony. The crosses will then come out over the next five years on significant dates.

Masonic Park, The Strand, Tauranga, August 29-September 11.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Robert Laurence Binyon
For the Fallen (excerpt), 1914.1

Soliders march down Queen St.

On Display

• From Tauranga to the Trenches

An innovative mobile exhibition created through the Tauranga Memories, part of the library, starts at Masonic Park and then travels around a variety of locations until December. The WW100 group will continue to collect Remembering War stories to keep the site updated. Particularly poignant are the stories of the 6th Hauraki Regiment, where six soldiers were killed on August 8, 1915. A memorial book will also be released on August 29.

Fans of the hardware of war can visit the Tauranga Arms and Militaria Show (August 16-17, Greerton Community Hall).

From September to November, the Tauranga Historical Society is hosting a public lecture series with the University of Waikato. The Herald's eye was caught by Fiona Kean's talk on The Public's Opinion: Tauranga's Wartime Concerns Expressed Through Letters to the Editor of the Bay of Plenty Times, but there are also experts talking on poetry and protest, the diary of a camelier and the engineers' tunnelling company.

Lecture Theatre 104, Tauranga Bongard Centre, 200 Cameron Rd, Tauranga. September 17-November 5.

• For Us They Fell

Waikato Museum has just completed a series of Antiques Roadshow-type events collecting memorabilia and stories for For Us They Fell, their keynote exhibition opening next April. In the meantime, there is a Great War Lecture Series, the first today discussing the devices of war and the instruments of peace.

Today, 11am-noon (with further lectures in November and December).
• More than a War

A collaborative project between Auckland Libraries and Unitec's Communications Studies department, the exhibition will showcase digital works using oral histories, letters and manuscripts. Personal narratives of the war years, including the home front, will be paired with contemporary responses -- film, creative writing -- to the commemorations. Stories of life on the home front are of particular interest.

The productions will be on Auckland Libraries website and the community can participate by sharing family stories and memorabilia of this time.

Contact Auckland Council oral historian Sue Berman at Auckland Libraries. West Auckland Research Centre, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson. September 25 to January 30, 2015.

A Walsh Brothers Curtiss flying boat of the New Zealand Flying School flying over Bastion Point in 1916. Photo / Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
• Great War Stories

One hundred years ago New Zealanders travelled across the globe to fight in World War I. This exhibition tells some of the many powerful and diverse stories from the "Great War" through objects and memories contributed by the Rotorua community.

Rotorua families have shared their treasures, including remarkable diaries, telegrams announcing the death of a loved son and photos of the first Pioneer (later Maori) batallion. Great War Stories is on at Rotorua Museum until November 2. Entry is included with Museum admission. Adults $20, seniors $18 and children $8. Rotorua residents is free with appropriate ID.
• It'll be Over by Christmas, Auckland Libraries

Opened last month, this exhibition of memorabilia, press reports, maps, photos and more shows New Zealand's contribution to the war, at the front and at home.

Particularly touching are the programmes of the first Anzac service in 1916, rare campaign maps of the Gallipoli peninsula and tales of the conscientious objectors.

You can see an online version of the exhibition on the Auckland Libraries website.

The libraries, with Auckland Council heritage and archivists, have created a super illustrated booklet, Our Boys, Our Families, to guide people researching their family members or others who took part in World War I - soldiers, nurses and family at home.

See how to navigate the wealth of council archives and collections, hard copies and online.

Until October 12. Email to request a print of the many photographs included in the Our Boys, Our Families guide.

Returned soldiers parade through Waiuku in 1919. Photo / Waiuku Museum Society

Join in

• Memorial Bridge, Rotorua

Rotorua is marking the start of its centenary by dedicating a new Memorial Bridge over Sulphur Lake in Government Gardens. It will officially open at a public ceremony next month.

The recycled and rebuilt bridge will eventually become part of a new sculpture trail linking the key attractions of the Museum, Blue Baths, Arts Village and Polynesian Spa.

The Government Gardens were known as Sanatorium Reserve, and the 1908 Bath House was used for physical and psychological therapy for returning soldiers returning from the war. By 1916, 63 military patients a day were being treated.

Tuesday, August 5, 2:30pm.

• War Begins Commemorative Service, Auckland Museum

At 3pm on August 5, 1914, the New Zealand Governor read a telegram from His Majesty King George V to a crowd of 15,000 people gathered at Parliament in Wellington, expressing the King's appreciation for the solidarity from his overseas dominions after Britain declared war with Germany.

And so New Zealand officially entered World War I.

The service has a re-enactment of the Governor's telegram-reading, as well as ceremonial wreath-laying and the singing of the national anthems.

The next national service marking our first overseas action - occupying German Samoa on August 29 - is a chance to demonstrate our close connections with Samoa.

Tuesday, August 5, 6pm. Friday August 29, 4.30pm.

• He toa taumata rau: Courage has many resting places

With the launch theme "Duty and Adventure", the Museum's weekend will feature music, illuminated film, poetry, theatre and talks.

Children can join recruitment drives, make crafts and join story times, there'll be tours of the old building.

But it's not just about military history, talks will look at the role of women and Maori and there's time to reflect and remember.

Secondary students will be competing in the finals of the Play It Strange The Calling songwriting competition - they were asked to imagine how it felt to be called up, a pretty powerful role play for today's teenagers.

Saturday and Sunday, August 9 and 10, 10am-5pm.

Wounded soldiers and nursing staff outside Rotorua Sanitorium circa 1915. Photo / Rotorua Museum
• WWI Samoa - Voices from the Pacific

A rich and vibrant programme exploring New Zealand's presence in Samoa during World War I and Samoa's perspective on the war, with Samoan music and theatre performances, expert speakers and film screenings. Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31.

Learn more

For more information about the history of World War I and the centenary visit these key sites:

For more resources and guidelines to research your own stories, pick up the Our Boys, Our Families booklet from any Auckland library.