World War Two (New Zealand involvement)

Where can I find information about New Zealand's involvement in World War Two?

Junior Secondary

(Years 7-10)

Colour photo of a WW2 memorial at Little River, Aotearoa NZ, made of stone with arches and wrought iron gates. The inscription includes the years '1939' and '1945' and says 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends'.

Image: World War II side of memorial gates Awa-Iti Domain, Little River by SueC and ColyerS. Collection: Kete Christchurch on DigitalNZ.

Entry last updated: 26/05/22


On 5 September 1941, Prime Minister Joseph Savage announced that New Zealand would be joining World War Two. Even thought New Zealand was in the war to support Britain and the Commonwealth, it made it's own formal declaration of war on Germany. Major battles fought by the defence forces (army, navy and air force) were in Greece, Italy, North Africa, Japan and the Pacific.

New Zealand websites

These websites have the best information on New Zealand's involvement in World War 2, the battles fought and the role of the defense forces including the 28th (Māori) Battalion and women.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Find the section on Government and Nation and then select War and Defence.

  • You will find here a link to the Second World War.

  • This page has links to New Zealand's involvement, strategy, and the variousbattles fought.


NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

28th Māori Battalion

The 28th (Māori) Battalion was made up of mainly Māori who were keen to serve New Zealand during the Second World War. The website was put together to record, remember and honor their services.

  • The link Story of the 28th is about how and why the battalion was formed and battles such as the Italian campaign and Desert Fighters where these soldiers fought.

  • The Interactive Map traces the movement of the battalion from the time it left New Zealand until the time of their return.

  • We recommend you explore the other links to find out more about the role of the 28th during WW2.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!

New Zealand Geographic Online

New Zealand Geographic Online is part of EPIC, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. This database allows you to read all the articles from the New Zealand Geographic magazine dating back to 1989, including recent issues.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Primary sources

Primary sources are things like photos, writings or personal stories from an event. There are some good websites that have primary sources showing New Zealand's involvement in World War Two.


DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history is an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once. It also has lots of primary sources.

  • Try searching for 'New Zealand World War Two'.

  • Results are grouped into images, videos, audio, newspapers, articles and stories. For example, the story VE Day in New Zealand - 9 May 1945 is a collection of images and audio on Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) celebrations in New Zealand.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg New Zealand World War Two. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It contains a wide range of quality resources for students in a range of formats, (eg articles, books, images, videos, primary sources, sets, websites) on a variety of topics. These resources have been selected from reliable national and international sources.

  • Go the topic set on New Zealand and the Second World War.

  • Under primary sources you will find images and information aboutHMNZS Leanderand new Zealand war hero Charles Upham.

  • A video on NZEF in Italy and an audio recording from Jim Godwinand his experience as a prisoner of war are some examples of the variety of content you can explore here.

Tips: Primary sources are original, first-hand experiences of people or records created by people of what they saw, heard or felt. Letters, diaries, journals, photographs, newspaper articles are some examples of primary sources.

NZ On Screen

NZ On Screen is a collection of free to view videos from New Zealand television and films. It has lots of series on New Zealand in war and conflict.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on this website. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


There have been many books written on New Zealand's involvement in World War Two. Here are some examples - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

SCIS no: 1940902

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