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Topic: World War I

War is declared

The governor, Lord Liverpool, announced that New Zealand was in a state of war with Germany on 5 August 1914.

People who had gathered outside the steps of Parliament to hear the news responded 'with a cheer that displayed the tense emotions of the crowd....Hats and hands were raised in the air, but the face was one of strained emotion'.

Shortly after this, New Zealand's Prime Minister William Massey promised that 'our last penny and our last man will be expended to carry the British flag free down the ages'.

A century of collecting war

One hundred years on, and Te Papa has a growing and diverse collection of objects, photographs, posters, and papers related to this conflict.

Most of the museum's World War I artefacts have been acquired incrementlly. Ranging from knitting patterns used to knit socks for soldiers to cigarettes souvenired from Egypt, they emphasise social history and personal stories rather than the campaign and strategic side of the conflict.

A handful of these items are war trophies, uniforms and weapons that were collected from the battle front during and immediately after the war. These were earmarked for a National War Museum in Wellington. However, this idea was not realised and most of this material was eventually distributed elsewhere.

WWI topics

The topics below illustrate the breath and nature of Te Papa's WWI-related collections. More will be added over the course of the four-year centennial commemorations.


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