First World War Centenary Panel announced

  • Christopher Finlayson
Arts, Culture and Heritage

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson is pleased to announce the appointees to the Government’s First World War Centenary panel.

The panel has been set up as an advisory group to help steer what will be an extensive programme to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of such distinguished and talented individuals to advise the Government on these centenary commemorations,” Mr Finlayson said. “It is a diverse group that will ensure the commemorations programme reflects the importance and solemnity of these events to the community and the whole nation.”

The panel will be chaired by NZ Post chief executive Brian Roche. Mr Roche was project manager for the successful bid to host last year’s Rugby World Cup and was director of was also chairman of RNZ 2011, the company responsible for delivering the highly successful tournament.

Other panel members are:

  • Hon Rick Barker, former Minister of Veterans’ Affairs;
  • Peter Biggs, managing director of Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne;
  • Bob Harvey, former mayor of Waitakere City;
  • Carol Hirschfeld, head of programming at Māori Television;
  • Sir Peter Jackson, Academy award winning director and producer;
  • Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Law Commissioner and former Minister of Defence;
  • Dame Anne Salmond, anthropologist, historian, writer and academic;
  • Dr Monty Soutar, historian and academic, and expert on Māori in wartime;
  • Matthew Te Pou, former Treaty settlement negotiator, farmer, coach of New Zealand Māori rugby team, and soldier, who served in Vietnam;
  • Cervantee Wild, winner of the National Bank RSA Cyril Bassett VC Speech Competition in 2011, who will bring a youth perspective to the panel.

There are also two ex officio members: RSA president Don McIver and incoming Australian High Commissioner Michael Potts.

Mr Roche, like most panel members and most New Zealanders, has personal links to the First World War.

“My grandfather and uncle served on the Western Front. I recognise the project will be an opportunity for us as a country to reflect on the war as a contributor to our character, identity and place in the world.”

The Governor-General of New Zealand, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, has agreed to be patron of the panel and said he was looking forward to working alongside panel members to ensure the commemorations reach the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.

Mr Finlayson said he was grateful to panel members who, despite busy careers, wanted to devote their time to the project because they recognised the importance of marking the centenary.

“These significant commemorations will take place over several years and aim to foster a better understanding among New Zealanders of our military heritage and the impact of the First World War on families, communities and those who served overseas.”

Today also marks the official launch of the First World War Commemoration symbol – a stylised poppy that will be used to identify and link commemorative events and activities.

The Government has a number of centenary legacy projects in the pipeline and some significant announcements will be made in coming weeks.

Just over 100,000 New Zealand troops served overseas from 1914 to 1918 from a population of barely one million. Of those, about 18,000 died and 41,000 were wounded.

The centenary programme will include a wide range of activities and events for New Zealanders to participate in – both at home and overseas. All New Zealanders are encouraged to engage in the programme in some way either by attending a commemorative event or learning more about their family’s military service history.

More information about the opportunities available to New Zealanders will be publicised through a dedicated website,

The First World War Centenary programme is being led by Manatū Taonga/Ministry for Culture and Heritage, with funding and support from the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The project team will also work with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Veterans Affairs New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Returned And Services Association, Te Puni Kokiri and the Department of Internal Affairs.

WW100 Symbol

The WW100 symbol reflects the poppy which has an enduring place in New Zealand war memorial commemorations. It will be used to link First World War commemorative projects and activities in communities and nationwide. See for more information on the symbol and its use.

First World War commemoration projects

Centenary history programme in print and online

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Massey University, the New Zealand Defence Force and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association are jointly producing a series of authoritative histories on New Zealand and the First World War.

The books in the Centenary History Programme will cover the major campaigns in Europe and the Middle East, New Zealanders’ contributions in the air and at sea, the experiences of soldiers at the front and civilians at home, the Māori war effort, and the war’s impact and legacy. Leading New Zealand historians are working on the first books in the series, which will appear between 2013 and 2018.

The Ministry is also developing comprehensive online resources, including resources for school students and teachers, at

Cenotaph project

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is leading an initiative to bring the First World War Centenary closer to New Zealand families.

The Cenotaph Database will be a starting point for families, schools, communities, researchers and people all over the world to explore content held about our soldiers. A page will be included for every New Zealand soldier who served in the First World War.
The Cenotaph Database project is being run in conjunction with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Te Papa, Archives New Zealand, the National Library including the Alexander Turnbull Libraries and the New Zealand Film Archive. It will be launched in 2014.

WW100 website

A website has been developed that provides information on First World War Centenary commemorations.

Members of the public can sign up now to be informed on updates as the programme develops.

For more information see

Legacy projects

A grant of 120,000 Euros has recently been provided to Passchendaele Memorial Museum in Flanders to assist in expansion of their museum and the installation of an expanded interpretive New Zealand exhibition. This is the first of a series of projects to improve interpretation at battlefield sites significant to New Zealand. The main effort will be to work with local museums and visitor centres at places where New Zealanders served, such as Gallipoli and along the Western Front, to upgrade their exhibitions which tell the story of New Zealand in the war. In addition, interpretation at New Zealand’s battlefield memorials and at the battle sites themselves will be upgraded.