World War One 1914-1918
In 1910-1911 New Zealand organised a Territorial Force of some 30,000 men, with permanent staff and an expanded General Headquarters. New weapons and improved training meant that when war broke out on 4 August 1914, New Zealand was able to offer Britain an expeditionary force immediately. There were enough volunteers to fill the numbers required for the force and its reinforcements until 1916.
News of Gallipoli and of the trenches in Belgium and France showed that the war was no longer a ‘glorious adventure’. Conscription was introduced in 1916 to maintain force numbers. In the First World War, just over 100,000 troops left New Zealand for service overseas in Samoa, Gallipoli, Sinai-Palestine, Belgium and France. Of those serving overseas, more than 16,000 lost their lives and over 41,000 were wounded, a very high casualty rate.
WWI personnel files
Archives New Zealand holds the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) Personnel Files for all known New Zealanders who served in the First World War. Because the original files are restricted for preservation reasons, we have digitised the collection (over 140,000 individual records). These digital versions are open to view and download.
The records contain information of interest to personal and professional researchers alike, such as a person’s movements, promotions or punishments, what medals they received, their health, and other biographical information.
Defined as an Enemy during the First World War see our Citizenship research guide .
Our records of casualties in the First World War include:
Casualty Forms – Active Service c.1915-1919; (Similar to forms in personnel records but often with extra death/burial information. Should include every soldier killed overseas) AABK 519
1st NZ Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour 1914-1918 – official published roll of casualties 8658 item 14; MICRO 3503
Active-Service Casualty rolls compiled during the war AAYS 8658
Index to casualties 1914-1918 AAYS 8658 item 10; MICRO 3539
Registers of Casualties 1915-1920 WA234 items 6-19
Registers of Wounded Soldiers (incomplete) AABK 7738
Register of soldiers treated at Wellington Hospital 1916-1919 ABRR 6910
Access to individual entries is open 20 years from death. Otherwise permission to access entries is needed from Capital & Coast Health, Wellington.
Decorations and Awards
Most records relate to the more notable decorations and awards of the First World War, such as the Victoria Cross, Military Medal, Distinguished Service Order, and decorations awarded by non-British governments to members of the NZEF.
Victoria Cross (VC) holders’ personnel files. AAAL 18806
Index to awards of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) AAYS 8665 item 24
Honours and Awards documentation may include action/citation for specific men and awards. [WA22 subseries 5 - Not listed on Archway as at mid-2019. See PDF listing Volume 2 (PDF 8.97 MB) linked to Agency description for War Archives ACID formerly WA.
Most citations appeared in the London Gazette. See also: Wayne McDonald Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1918, 2001 and 2009. Record number entry in this book refers to WA22 files above.
Decorations awarded by the French Government to members of the NZEF & Imperial Details attached to it AAYS 8665 item 25
Pioneer (Māori) Battalion – casualties, decorations and awards AAYS 8694 record 27/161
New Zealand Gazettes and New Zealand Year Books 1915-1919 may include details of awards.
Defaulters, Deserters and Conscientious Objectors
Access to these records is restricted for 100 years from birth of the individual involved. Holdings include:
Courts Martial ABOO 25419 Lists publicly listed on Archway after 100 years. These files are restricted.
Territorial Forces - a few files on defaulters and shirkers [AD 1/10]
Returns of Religious Objectors 1913-1921 [AD 1 10/22/13-21]
Courts Martial & Courts of Enquiry [AD 1/22]
Personnel, including deserters, suspects, aliens, spies, etc [AD 1/24]
Deserters & defaulters [AD 2 14/184]
Individual personnel files concerning disciplinary action [AD 10 5/1-20]
Prosecutions & exemptions [AD 19 108/3-216]
Employment – religious objectors on experimental farms 1918-1920 [AD 78 70/1/2]
Recruiting Board & religious objectors 1917-1918 [AD 82 1/23,33,33/1&2]
Lists of deserters (August 1918 to March 1919) [AD 82 14/2/1-5]
Discharges from camp – religious objectors 1917-1919 [AD 83 R 9/1]
Diaries & Statements
We hold some Diaries, Statements and Reports covering operations by New Zealand Expeditionary Force units, in both Europe and the Middle East. The variety of material includes some personal diaries and statements ACID 17625. See Unit Diaries for each unit’s daily journal.
Pioneer Māori Battalion
Pioneer Māori Battalion WW1 records include:
Maori Contingents and Reinforcements 1914-1918 ACIH 16069 item 10h
Embarkation Rolls ACIH 16036 record 19/1/473
Unit Diaries ACID 18432 items 97a - 97am
Other records include NZ Māori Contingent Numerical Roll, Registration Roll for Māori Contingent, Nominal Roll, Routine Orders and Unit Records not listed on Archway as at June 2018. See WA97 subseries 2 and 3 lists: volume 2 at War Archives [WA] paper listings.
Further records of the Pioneer Māori Battalion may be found in Māori Affairs and Army Departments. See our Maori research guide for more information.
Used in combination with material such as Unit Diaries, maps are useful to trace the movements of an individual or unit. These include
Main areas: Gallipoli, Middle East, France & Belgium WA220 not listed on
Army Department WWI Maps & Plans (49 in total) AAAL W3716
General Maps & Lantern Slides, including Gallipoli AAYS 8638 record 136
Major Richardson Papers include relevant Maps WA 250 items 41a – 41n
The New Zealand war histories, published after the First World War, also include many maps. online at NZ Electronic Text Collection.
Nominal Embarkation Rolls NZ Expeditionary Force 1914-1919
Army Department Embarkation Rolls for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (1 NZEF) are arranged by Unit, listing personnel by rank and only then alphabetically. They are held on Microfilm and in Army and War Department records.
Army Department Embarkation Rolls for the NZEF are arranged by unit, listing personnel by rank and only then alphabetically: available on Microfilm and in Army and War Department records. Microfilm numbers are given in the Archway listing: AAYS 8657 items 1 – 8. Nominal & Alphabetical rolls, 1914-17 [WA234 items 1-5 Belgium: not listed on Archway as at June 2018. See PDF listing Volume 2 (PDF 8.97 MB) linked to Agency description for War Archives formerly WA ACID.
Rolls and Lists for specific sections, for New Zealanders serving in Australian units, for NZ officers in British units, for nurses and for Pioneer Māori Battalion: AAYS 8638 particularly subseries 10.
New Zealand Army Nursing Service
Nurse Service records are held with all the other Military Service records.
There are few files about individual war pensions. Two useful series about war pension applications are:
General Correspondence files include some names:
War Pensions for First World War servicemen ABDO 16143 records W20-W313.
We hold several First World War photograph collections:
Gallipoli Campaign, by Sergeant Jack Hilliard. Permission needed for copies) ACID 24609
Embarkation, wounded (graphic images) & women’s war effort in Britain. ACID 17625 Format: Photo.
NZEF in France 1917-1918 by official photographer AALZ 901. Most photographs are group portraits. A numerical list by print number includes brief descriptions of subject matter. Many of these photographs are also in the F D Thomson papers ABHT W3920.
Soldiers overseas, cemeteries etc. ACGO 8398 format: photograph
Other photos collections include: Alexander Turnbull Library, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland City Libraries, Army Museum, NZDF Archives
For more information on our photography records see our Photography research guide.
Rehabilitation of soldiers after the First World War
A number of servicemen suffering from shell-shock, etc, spent time in the Queen Mary Hospital, Hanmer. See our Mental health research guide . Many of the records are restricted access. The government also made efforts to rehabilitate soldiers into civilian life after the war. A key initiative was the land settlement scheme which aimed to provide cheap farms for those who wanted them, and loans to help finance the purchases. About 9500 soldiers were settled but much of the land was marginal. Considerable hardship and failure resulted. A variety of Army and Lands & Survey Department records can provide information on the government’s efforts to rehabilitate soldiers after the First World War
Army Department AAYS 8638 subseries 358/ & 359/.
Register of Returned Soldiers Holdings 1916-1930 ACGT 18460.
Land for Settlement ACGT 18190 subseries 21/.
Soldiers Advances etc. ACGT 18190 subseries 26/.
Lists of Reservists were drawn up by ballot under the Military Service Act of 1916.
Numerical lists AAYS 8658 items 1-8], organised by ballot: available on microfilm.
Index (alphabetical) to the Lists of Reservists: AAYS 8658 item 9; MICRO 3533.
Lists contain no information about place of residence at ballot time. The names of those called up were notified in the New Zealand Gazette November 1916- September 1918, arranged by recruiting district, and with addresses included.
Medical Examiners assessed men on a 4-point scale.
A Fit for service
B Requiring further training or treatment
C Fit for Home Service only
D Unfit for service
NZDF Unit Diaries were collected to provide material for later published histories of New Zealand’s WWI efforts. Each unit has its own series number formerly listed as WA1 to WA252. Units and their records are listed in volumes 1 and 2 of the War Archives [WA] paper listings.
These series often include Routine Orders and other information on the activities and movements of the unit. Few individuals are mentioned by name. Unit Diaries are being digitised. Some can be viewed online.
War Graves, funeral grants, burials and pensions
The Wellington office holds card indexes of the graves of First World War servicemen
War Graves Branch files ACGO 8333 subseries 32/
Non-War Graves Card Index of WWI servicemen who died after the war AAAC 21829
Information about the war graves of most soldiers who died on active duty during the First World War can be obtained from other institutions
Ph. 0800 483 8372
Pensions and Funeral Grants for ex-servicemen
Funeral Grants 1926-64 ADBO 16144 record 13/3
Funeral Grants 1962-71 ADBO 61644 record 13/1/1
War Pensions, Burial of Ex-Soldiers; Auckland District 1923-1953, Wellington District 1923-1945, Christchurch District 1923-1942, Timaru District 1925-1940, Dunedin District 1923-1940 AADK W4075 subseries 11/3/…
War Pensions and War Veterans Application, Bursaries and Funeral Grants - Register 1951-1963 AADK 7916 W4883 box 2.
Other useful places for WW1 information:
If you are interested in finding out more about the First World War try one of these resources as a starting point for your research.
Last modified on 10 June 2019