Wairarapa College senior history classes have again drawn a tight focus on the tests and travails of Wairarapa soldiers and their fellow Kiwis at war, with vital help from Wairarapa archivists, says Wairarapa College head of history Jenna Katia.

Mrs Katia said the annual study project involved Year 12 students, who were conducting their research into WWI soldiers from Wairarapa under Year 11 dean Ryan Southey, and Year 13 students who she was leading in a study of a military campaign or battle involving Kiwi fighters.

Year 12 students were tasked with studying a Wairarapa soldier with a name and service number on the roll of honour on the cenotaph at Queen Elizabeth Park, who had died during WWI.

Wairarapa archivists Gareth Winter and Neil Frances had been helping the budding historians with their research, particularly the circumstances and surviving details surrounding the life, military deeds and death of the soldier they had drawn to study. "The majority of the students do visit the archives and the research material they get there is just so valuable and the archivists are so very helpful. It's great."


She said there had been a student conducting the annual research into a Wairarapa soldier about two years ago, who discovered the soldier, a Kawana, was a relative.

"She found out she was related to him and actually went to his grave and discovered he was buried in a family cemetery."

She said the students do not research the same soldiers year-to-year. Mrs Katia was not aware of a similar family relationship involving a student this year.

"In Year 13, we build on the study from the previous year and instead of researching a local soldier, they research a battle or campaign in which New Zealand was involved. There were some students studying the (World War II) Battle of Monte Casino or Battle of Crete and some had chosen to research the more obvious choices like Passchendaele or Gallipoli.

"We even have one girl this year doing the Battle of the River Plate, which nobody has ever done before in this particular study."

She said students who had completed the earlier research often chose to study one of the battles in which the Wairarapa soldier, with whom they were familiar, had fought.