29 Aug 2013

WW1 archives going online for public

8:26 pm on 29 August 2013

New Zealand is marking next year's centenary of World War I with better access to records of Kiwi soldiers who served in the war via the internet.

Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, Wellington Battalion commander at Gallipoli

Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, Wellington Battalion commander at Gallipoli Photo: RNZ / ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY

Staff at Archives New Zealand and the National Library are digitising the files, photos and diaries of the more than 160,000 New Zealanders who served in the war for the public to access online.

The Internal Affairs Minister, Chris Tremain made the announcement on Thursday as part of the Government's WW100 programme.

Mr Tremain says the public will have online access to the experiences of those who fought in the Great War.

"The rigours that they had to face and then the difficulties, the hunger, and that all comes to life in the diaries and it will be great if that can be fed out to New Zealanders. The use of modern technology is going to enable a whole new part of the community to get involved."

He says the huge resource will also allow young people, through the National Library's services to schools programme, to gain a much better understanding of events that took place nearly 100 years ago.

War-time photographs, editions of newspapers and 70 hours of oral history from WWI veterans are also being made available.

Archives Mew Zealand will also use Facebook and Twitter to send out quotes from diaries showing how people's attitudes towards the war changed as it progressed.

Diary entries by Lieutenant-Colonel William George Malone show he stood up to his superiors, refusing to let soldiers go over the top of the trenches to their death.

One of his relatives, Judy Malone, says she is thrilled that people can access his and others' stories.