World War One (causes and impacts)

Where can I find information about the causes and impacts of World War One?

Image: New Zealand soldier stands over the grave of a fallen comrade by Henry Armytage from National Library NZ on The Commons on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 22/12/20


World War One was a major war fought between 1914 and 1918 which caused widespread destruction. More than 20 million people lost their lives. It has also been referred to as 'The Great War' and 'The War to End All Wars'.

General websites

These websites will explain more about the causes of World War One (WWI) and the impacts it had worldwide.

Britannica School Middle

Britannica School Middle is part of EPIC, which is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

  • Enter 'World War I' into the search box and and select the link World War I (1914 - 1918) .
  • Find the section The Onset of War to read about the causes of WWI and The Peace and Its Results to find out about its impacts including reparations.
  • You can choose to read at a higher or lower level by selecting from the Article Reading Level from the top of the page.
  • Check out the link to Web's best sites to see some other websites you could visit for more information.
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.
Tips: Not sure what a word means? Try using Google as a dictionary. Just type the word 'define' in front of the word you want to define, then select Search. Eg [define reparations].


This site has a range of articles, diagrams and images on history, biography, geography, science and sport. It's easy to read, interesting and also includes some educational games on these subjects.

  • Look under the heading History for a link to World War 1.
  • Under Overview you will find Causes of World War I.
  • Under Other you can also look at Post WWI and Treaties to explore some of the impacts the war had on many countries.
  • Look at Learn More about World War I to find information about key people (leaders) involved in the war, a timeline and main battles fought.
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!

BBC Bitesize

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has a website for school students which has some excellent resources on World War One.

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 BBC Learning page on this website. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

DK Find Out!

DK Find Out! is a great site for finding reliable information about all kinds of topics, including historical topics like World War I.

  • Choose History from the main page, then select World War I.
  • Look at Origins of the war to understand what led to this war.
  • Select The cost of World War I to explore the impact of the war on people and the countryside.

New Zealand sites

These New Zealand websites have been selected because they tell us how the war affected us, even though we were so far away from all the main battles.

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.

  • Look down the page to Sections and choose Government and Nation.
  • Next select War and Defence and then First World War.
  • Go to Origins to investigate how the war started and why New Zealand joined in.
  • Go to Impact of the war to read about the human cost and how the war affected our status in the world and our national identity.
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.


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.

  • Select New Zealand at War from the main page and find the link to the First World War.
  • Under NZ goes to War find the article First World War - overview to find some statistics and to read about the loss of lives, then select The legacy of war to understand the impact on the country.
  • Look at articles under Home Front to look at the effect the war had in New Zealand.
  • Under the heading Aftermath find Pacific aftermath which describes the legacy of war in the Pacific Islands.

NZ On Screen

NZ On Screen is a collection of television, film and music videos on New Zealand history, culture, society, and politics.

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 [First World War]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.


There are lots of books written about the causes and impacts of World War One - check your school library or public library for some titles.

Here are some we recommend:

SCIS no. 1971777

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