The desolate wasteland where the Battle of Passchendaele took place in World War I has been recreated at an Auckland farm for a new photographic exhibition.

Around 843 New Zealand soldiers were killed on October 12, 1917, during the failed attack on Bellevue Spur, dubbed as the country's "blackest day".

The Mangere farm had a section of a paddock renovated to become a casualty clearing station where nurses would have received and treated injured soldiers.

Hobbit actor, artist and photographer Dean O'Gorman is working to capture the role nurses held during WWI at the Western Front.

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The shoot took place on part of a Mangere farm made to look like a WWI casualty clearing station. Photo / Michael Craig
The shoot took place on part of a Mangere farm made to look like a WWI casualty clearing station. Photo / Michael Craig

The new content is a part of his current exhibition, Passchendaele – The Elusive Familiarity of War, which is on display at The Great War Exhibition in Wellington.

"The reason I'm doing it about the nurses is that I've always wanted to anyway but it's also something that's quite important," O'Gorman said.

"There's surprisingly little information about it and I think that people don't appreciate or even know how much the New Zealand women contributed."

New Zealand had no official nursing service in the army when WWI broke out in August 1914 but in the end around 550 nurses served overseas during the war.

Photographs from the production by Dean O'Gorman. Nurses at Passchendaele came closer to the front line than they ever had before, he says. Photo / Michael Craig
Photographs from the production by Dean O'Gorman. Nurses at Passchendaele came closer to the front line than they ever had before, he says. Photo / Michael Craig

Nurses at Passchendaele came closer to the front line than they ever had before, O'Gorman said.

"There's not a lot of photographs of nurses in action in the First World War, I really want to show that and think it's important.

"There were a lot of New Zealand nurses who participated in the First World War ... it was really dangerous and there's a real lack of pictorial evidence about that.

"It would be really nice to show how in some small way women participated in the First World War and maybe that might be new to some people", he said.

The new "nurses in action" exhibition will be installed on October 12 at The Great War Exhibition, on the 101st anniversary of the attack.