National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Museum News

Explore New Zealand’s military history and check out the latest museum news, events and exhibits, plus details of our latest acquisitions, war memorabilia and artefacts.

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Artist Kingsley Baird Explores Anzac Identity

In his latest works titled The Anzac Pair, Wellington-based visual artist Kingsley Baird explores ideas surrounding ANZAC identity and mythology. The Anzac Pair comprises two sculptures, Gallipoli and Birth of nation, which explore and reveal connections between the past and present as well as the inception and maintenance of national mythologies and national identities. The Anzac Pair is now on display in our Medal Respository. 



WWI Soldier’s Personal Name Tag Reunited with Family

James Beattie’s personal name tag discovered in France.

Archivist Dolores Ho was honoured to deliver the news to a NZ family that their ancestor had served in WWI and that his personal name tag had been discovered in France. The tag belonged to 32498 Gunner James Beattie and was recently returned to the family during a ceremony in Christchurch in May 2017.

The personal name tag was first discovered by an adjutant/reserve chief of the French Gendarmerie while out enjoying his hobby as a metal detector enthusiast on 8 October, 2016. It was found not far from his house at ‘les cinq rues’ Hazebrouck, France. In the hopes of returning the tag to James Beattie’s descendants, several organisations were contacted to trace the family in New Zealand.

In early March 2017, Dolores was contacted by Captain Shaun Fogarty, Defence Attaché in Paris to assist with the search. After a period of several weeks researching, she was finally able to make contact with James’ great-grandnephew, a member of the Trevella family in Christchurch. “To research, to trace the family history and to be able to find the family is a big achievement and being able to tell the family about James’ history and other family history they didn’t know about is an amazing feeling,” said Dolores.



A Wonderful Tradition Sadly Comes to an End

Participants during National Army Museum Golf Tournament in 2012.

37 years of golf, entertainment and long-lasting comradeship have come to an end, when 62 ex-servicemen got together in March at Burnham for the last time. The tournament began in 1980 and has raised more than $260,000 for the National Army Museum over the years.

The tournament has seen many comrades converge on Burnham Military Camp over three days each March for 36 holes of golf, singing, laughing, story-telling and long-lasting friendship. Attendees have varied over the years with a high of 180 players in 1989 to 60 golfers attending in March 2017.



An Exciting Opportunity: Educator Māori/Pou Tīaki Mātauranga

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the team at the world class National Army Museum Te Mata Toa.

You will be proficient in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori with the confidence and capability to develop and deliver curriculum linked programmes and rauemi to schools and kura within the Māori medium sector. You will have an up to date knowledge of current teaching pedagogy and a passion for kaupapa Māori education. The National Army Museum Te Mata Toa is a living memorial and place of connection for NZ, its Army, our people and our soldiers. This is a three year LEOTC funded position.

Applications close 28 November 2016, 4pm.

For further details and to request an application pack please contact Verity Tamepo. Ph: (06) 387 6911 Email:



Commemorations for the Bere Ferrers Rail Tragedy of 1917 to be held next year

Ring of 10 hand crafted poppies made by Shelley  Kirton in remembrance

Ring of 10 hand crafted poppies made by Shelley Kirton in remembrance

The Bere Alston Branch of the Royal British Legion in England will be holding a Commemorative Event on September 24th 2017 at 15:52 at Bere Ferrers Station to remember the lives of the soldiers who were tragically killed there in 1917. This will be the 100th Anniversary of the rail accident which resulted in the deaths of 10 members of the New Zealand Expeditionary force (28th Reinforcements) on their way to Salisbury Plain.

The details of the 10 men who passed away that day are as follows: Private WS Gillanders, aged 36, Service No 55050, Private WF Greaves, aged 31, Service No 57068, Private JS Jackson, aged 20, Service No 55753, Private J Judge age unknown, 56791, Private CI Kirton, aged 21, 56795, Private BAW Mc Bryde, aged 24, Service No 55776, Private RV Mc Kenna aged 20, Service No 57122, Private WJ Trussel, aged 28, Service No 56874, Private J Warden, aged 33, Service No 56883, Private SE West, aged 21, 54624.

The organisers would like any descendants of these men to contact them if they’re interested in being involved with this event.

In January of 2015 Shelley Kirton, a descendant of one of the ten soldiers who passed away at Bere Ferrers, made a special contribution to the National Army Museum’s Patriotic Call to Yarn project. Chudleigh Inwood Kirton was Shelley Kirton’s great uncle and her tribute consisted of ten immaculately hand-made poppies to represent each of those killed in this tragedy. These poppies were placed together as requested by Shelley to make a mini memorial within our wall of poppies remembering the New Zealand soldiers who died during World War One.



Local Artist Collaborates with National Army Museum

janita for web

Local Artist Janita Purcell with Toa the Warrior

Meet Toa the Warrior, the new National Army Museum ‘Kidz HQ’s official mascot just in time for the school holidays.

“The work was commissioned thanks to the artistic talents of local artist Janita Purcell and has been completed in record time with the final result exceeding our expectations”, said Museum Marketing Manager Nicola Bennett. “We wanted a modern day character that children would like and could relate to, and Janita achieved this in between her work as a Teacher Aide at Ohakune Primary School”

Toa will become a well used mascot amongst all the kids activities both online and at the Museum. He was initially commissioned as part of a bigger project the museum is working on with the help of funding from the Lotteries Grants Board. The project will give children an interactive look at ‘Animals at War’ with a focus on World War I and is scheduled to be completed by the end of August.

Janita is well known in the community for her wonderful art and also has an interest in the military with her husband being the Officer Commanding at the Officer Cadet School in Waiouru. “It’s close to home for me – to combine my love of art with helping the local community,” said Janita.



The National Army Museum Te Mata Toa Celebrates Te Wiki o te reo Māori


Guests from the local community were invited to celebrate Te Wiki o te reo Māori during a night at the museum.

Guests from the local community were invited to celebrate Te Wiki o te reo Māori during a night at the museum.

This year marks the 41st annual celebration of Te Wiki o te reo Māori, Māori Language Week in Aotearoa, NZ. The Māori language commission, Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori has set this year’s theme as ‘Akina te reo ‘, to support, inspire and encourage the use of te reo Māori – behind you all the way!

On the 7th of July, The National Army Museum celebrated Te Wiki o te reo Māori by hosting Ki Te Mata Toa te Pō, A Night at the Museum. During the evening Museum staff and local experts hosted kōrero, showcasing our various Taonga Māori and connected Māori stories. Local guests from the community in attendance were treated to a traditional Hāngī, prepared and cooked onsite by National Army Museum members of staff.

Taonga Māori featured during the night included our Roimata Pounamu, Tears on Greenstone Memorial alongside various items within our Māori weaponry collection. Personnel from the Waiouru military base entertained guests with stories of their journey to Gallipoli as members of the NZDF Kapahaka Group. Their tales touched upon the experience of sharing Māori culture with the local Turkish community and the spiritual connection they felt to the land and their ancestors who fought there. Descendants of servicemen from the 28th Māori Battalion spoke about the importance this connection played in their upbringing, and the sense of inherited identity and legacy which continues to influence their lives today. Each kōrero provided an opportunity to utilize te reo in understanding and celebrating the significance of our Taonga Māori and their immense value within the Museum’s collection.




Curators Host Informative Evening for Army General Staff

Earlier this month The National Army Museum hosted a dinner with the Deputy Chief of Army Brigadier Chris Parsons for Army General Staff from Wellington. The evening was one of many activities held for participants during a week-long team building exercise in Waiouru, the heart of the New Zealand Army.

Guests were served a three-course dinner held in the Kippenberger Pavilion, and were given a taste of army life with their meal presented in traditional mess tins. The large group was divided into five platoons with titles inspired by local Māori place names, familiarising our visitors with areas of significance in the surrounding Waiouru landscape. 

Between courses, the five platoons were invited to attend curator talks held in various areas throughout the Museum’s galleries. Touring around the presentations on show, guests gained an insiders look at the behind-the-scenes operations of the Museum. Curators from our Heraldry, Archives, Social History and Accoutrements, Textiles and Armoury collections gave guests the chance to view some of our most rare and curious taonga up close. The array of artefacts on display ranged from crafts created by soldiers while in convalescence to the personal firearms of revered military figures such as General Freyberg. Each talk provided an opportunity for curators to share their knowledge of the collection, not only about the artefacts themselves but the processes by which we receive them and how they are stored and conserved once here.



The Journey to find the Rightful Owners

From left Matt Sale, Public Trust, Liz Mildon, Asst Curator Heraldry and Col (Rtd) Ray Seymour

From left Matt Sale of the Public Trust, Liz Mildon, Assistant Curator Heraldry and Col (Rtd) Ray Seymour

The National Army Museum recently became part of the Public Trust’s ‘The Rightful Owners’ campaign when we accepted the donation of a WWII medal group from the Public Trust last month.

The campaign involved a variety of 12 personal items found by the Public Trust and all containing clues to the item’s past such as names and engravings. The items were all rich in history and the campaign aimed to uncover the interesting personal stories attached to each item and with this the journey began to find their rightful owners.

The campaign helps to show the value of family treasures and to recognise the importance of looking after family memorabilia to ensure history is not lost.

One of the items was a WWII medal group including the War Medal 1939-45 and the N.Z. War Service Medal. 


First World War Rugby Trophy Now on Display at the National Army Museum

The Somme Cup

The Somme Cup

One of the first international military rugby trophies, the Somme Cup, is on display at National Army Museum in Waiouru until 26 April 2016

The Cup, a cast bronze sculpture of a French grenadier by French artist Georges Chauvel, has been preserved in a private collection since the end of the First World War. It was brought to the attention of the New Zealand Defence Force when the Defence Blacks rugby team played a replica commemorative game against the French military’s Pacific XV in Paris late last year.

National Army Museum Director, Ms Tracy Puklowski, said the Museum was grateful to the lenders for the opportunity to display the Cup to the public, especially during the centennial year of the Battle of the Somme.



NAM Welcomes New Director

The New Zealand Defence Force and the National Army Museum Trust Board are delighted to announce the appointment of Ms Tracy Puklowski to the role of Director of the National Army Museum.

Deputy Chief of Army, Brigadier (BRIG) Chris Parsons says Ms Puklowski’s appointment offers a fresh perspective and an exciting future focus for the Waiouru based institution.

“Tracy’s strong background in museology and relationships with the local and international museum community will build on the museum’s past successes, and provide sound leadership in the future”, BRIG Parsons says.

Ms Puklowski has worked in New Zealand’s cultural heritage sector for 20 years, and has held a range of senior leadership roles, including at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Library of New Zealand, and Archives New Zealand. Tracy has also been the Director of two museums; Te Awamutu, and Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History.

During her time at Te Papa, Tracy led a successful programme of change at National Services Te Paerangi, developed new partnerships and programmes for the museum through a wide range of national and international networks, and oversaw the record-breaking exhibition Gallipoli: the scale of our war.

“We are excited that Tracy will bring her talents to the nationally significant role at the National Army Museum,” said Rick Ellis, Chief Executive of Te Papa.

“Her understanding of modern museum practice, her commitment to working with communities, and her international connections will all be huge assets in this leadership role. We congratulate the National Army Museum on the appointment, and we look forward to working with Tracy as a colleague in the Museums sector,” Mr Ellis said.

Ms Puklowski has strong international museum networks and is actively involved with the Federation of International Human Rights Museums and the Social Justice Alliance for Museums. She is also the current Chair of International Council of Museums New Zealand.

Ms Puklowski holds a Masters degree with Honours in Art History, a postgraduate Museum Studies diploma, and is a graduate of the highly competitive Getty Museum Leadership Institute programme, based in the United States.

Not All of Our ANZAC Heroes Were Men in Khaki

Local Harriet Gardner, a widow in her seventies from Rangataua knitted by candlelight 1.36 socks for every single day of World War One. Harriet’s story is one of many remembered in the National Army Museum’s latest exhibition Women of Empire 1914-1918 which opened on 14th August.

The First World War was a transformative experience for many women. Opportunities to take on new roles and learn new skills saw these women become ambulance drivers, doctors, farmers and fund-raisers. They travelled the world, from Cairo to the Western Front, from Samoa to Serbia; or they remained at home, ‘doing their bit’ to keep businesses, farms and households afloat while their men served King and country in far away lands.


Lone Pine Trees for Waiouru

Padre Chris Haines blessing the Gallipoli Lone Pine

A very special tree was planted at the National Army Museum in a small ceremony on the 5th May 100 years since the New Zealand Infantry Brigade were shipped to Cape Helles south of the Gallipoli landing site in preparation for the Second Battle of the Krithia, also known as the battle for the Daisy Patch.

The tree is a descendant of the Gallipoli Peninsula’s Lone Pine and was gifted to the Museum by Scion, the crown institute for forestry.

The seeds were raised in the Scion research nursery having been collected in 2012 from the Turkish red pine growing at Paeroa Golf course. They have been authenticated as descendants of the original Lone Pine, traced back to a pine cone brought home by an Australian soldier Sergeant Keith McDowell after World War I.



A Visit to the Italian Embassy

Italian Ambassador Carmelo Barbarello with Museum Registrar Anna Beazley and the WWII artefacts

Italian Ambassador Carmelo Barbarello with Museum Registrar Anna Beazley and the WWII artefacts

A World War ii soldier’s kit was recently returned to the National Army Museum after being on long term loan to the Italian Embassy in Wellington.

The soldier artefacts included a rifle, soldier battledress, helmet, webbing and boots.

New ambassador, Carmelo Barbarello was keen to return the items to the Museum which had been on loan since a request from the embassy back in 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II and some of the major battles of the Italian campaign including Monte Cassino. The Museum happily obliged and the items have been with the Embassy ever since.

Anna Beazley, Museum Registrar made the trip to Wellington to collect the items and sincerely thanks the embassy for their hospitality.


A Special Tribute

Ring of 10 hand crafted poppies made by Shelley  Kirton in remembrance

Ring of 10 hand crafted poppies made by Shelley Kirton in remembrance

Rifleman, Chudleigh Inwood Kirton was one of ten soldiers killed during WWI in a terrible tragedy at Bere Ferrers station near Plymouth in South Devon. Chudleigh was Shelley Kirton of Northland’s great uncle and she has made a very special tribute through the National Army Museum’s Patriotic Call to Yarn project, of ten immaculately hand-made poppies to represent each of those men killed.

21 year old Chudleigh, along with 9 of his fellow soldiers were killed by a train when they accidentally ended up on the train tracks when their troop train made an unscheduled stop whilst being transported to Sling Camp after arriving in Plymouth Sound from New Zealand.

Shelley said “I am very proud to have participated in this wonderful memorial exhibition and it has been quite an emotional experience to knit a poppy for each of these lost soldiers.”

Shelley’s 10 poppies will be placed together within the overall Patriotic Call to Yarn project in tribute to these 10 soldiers lost so tragically during WWI.

Learn the full story of what happened at Bere Ferrers station.


Wings Over Wairarapa 2015

Vehicles line up ready for the Universal Carrier World Record attempt

Vehicles line up ready for the Universal Carrier World Record attempt

This year’s Wings Over Wairarapa was a huge success with well over 20,000 attending the event in the scorching heat of Masterton. The National Army Museum was part of a successful attempt to break the world record of the number of Bren Gun Carriers or Universal Carriers at an event. The previous record was 17 set in Australia of the armoured vehicles travelling around a 3.2km course. The record was smashed on Saturday 17th January when 30 carriers attempted the record on a course around the airfield in front of huge crowds. 27 made it right around with the other 3 overheating in the 35 degree temperatures.

The carriers were used by both the Divisional Cavalry and infantry during World War II. the Museum’s Universal Carrier is one of the first six to arrive in New Zealand in 1939.

Learn more about the Universal Carrier.



Patriotic Call to Yarn is Launched

The Museum makes a 'call to yarn' with local sewers and crafters

The Museum makes a ‘call to yarn’ with local sewers and crafters

On 16th October the National Army Museum officially launched their ‘Patriotic Call to Yarn’ project commemorating all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on an important day in history when the first soldiers left New Zealand for Europe and the First World War.

On 16th October 1914 over 8,000 New Zealand troops and their horses left Wellington harbour and New Zealand shores bound for Egypt. They left thinking, “it will all be over by Christmas”, that it was an adventure of a lifetime, the opportunity for overseas travel. Little did they know what awaited them on the other side of the world.

Over the course of the next four to five years on the battlefields of Gallipoli and later Europe, New Zealand lost 18,166 men and women to the ravages of war.

In honour of all those men and women 100 years ago, the National Army Museum is seeking assistance from the general public of New Zealand and have made a ‘patriotic call to yarn’ by aiming to produce one hand crafted poppy for each serviceman and woman lost by our nation in the Great War. That is 18,166 poppies!



Napier Boys High School Remembers

Napier Boys High School students pay tribute

Annual visitors Napier Boys High School scheduled this year’s visit on the historical date of 4th August. Upon hearing they were coming on the 100thanniversary of the start of the Great War they welcomed taking part in a suggested tribute to those old boys who had served and in some cases died during World War I.

The Museum asked the school to supply the names of those old boys who had served in the Great War and our resident family history expert Grant Hays quickly researched the service history of each of the names supplied.

To the boys credit they actively took part in the tribute reading a small biography for each soldier and laying a memorial cross. Amongst those soldiers remembered was Sir Ernest Harston, who was with Col Malone when he died in Gallipoli, the three Bogle brothers who all lost their lives, one in Belgium, one in Gallipoli and the other in France, and DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal) winner Francis Herbert.

The Museum will profile one soldier each newsletter starting with Edward Herman Weber.


World War One Shared Histories

Year 12 and 13 girls studying French from Nga Tawa Diocesan School in Marton spent a day researching and filming in the National Army Museum’s “Harnessed: New Zealand’s War Horses” exhibition.

The school is part of a special World War One centenary project titled Shared Histories, a joint initiative between the New Zealand and French Governments linking 19 New Zealand schools with 19 in France.

Nga Tawa wanted to be part of the project and were teamed up with Julesferry College in France due to their common link with horses and equestrian. The two schools aim is to study the novel and film War Horse, and to each prepare a video of their studies to exchange with each other.

Learn about the school’s link to a real WWI War Horse.


Poignant Images to See Light of Day Online

WWI Soldiers Hut

The National Army Museum is to receive a sizable grant from the Lotteries Commission which will allow it to digitise and make the bulk of its extensive collection of World War One photographs available to enquirers and researchers online.

The project will see over 10,000 WWI photographs made available in the online format, many of them not seen before in exhibitions or publications. Not only will this enable families, schools, researchers and people all over the world to share in a wonderful resource, it will ensure long term preservation of the originals as the handing of these important photographs will be minimised.

Read the full story about these important World War One photos.

WWII POW Visits Museum

NZ WWII POW SSgt Brandt Robinson

95 year old SSgt Cyril Henry Brandt Robinson spent the majority of World War II as a prisoner having been “left behind in Crete” with 6,000 other Allied soldiers, as he told the staff at the National Army Museum during a recent visit. Brandt as he likes to be known, added his signature to the 625 other Prisoners of War (POWs) who have already added their names to the Museum’s Prisoner Of War Wall.

Brandt embarked with the advance party to Egypt on 11 December 1939 as a Private, and became the Divisional Signals Quartermaster Sergeant (QMS) with the rank of SSgt.

Brandt told Museum staff he arrived in Crete pre the 1st Echelon because of his role with Signals stores and remembers that the now legendary soldier; Capt Charles Upham VC & Bar was also there at the same time but training in special operations.

Read the full story of this inspiring New Zealand WWII POW.



Army Museum Embraces New Smart Phone Technology

Those who own a smart phone can now enjoy a value added experience at the National Army Museum. We are offering new audio tours to communicate engaging stories about artefacts not otherwise told within the current displays.

Customers with smart phones are able to access these stories by downloading a simple free phone application. Once the application is open visitors can scan a code on the front of the display case within the museum to access the stories.

The ‘STQRY’ phone application also supports many different languages. Marketing Manager, Nicola Bennett said “Our aim is to enhance the visitor experience at the museum and these stories are doing just that. We hope to continue to expand what we have on offer to include extras like a behind the scenes look at our different collections and other self guided tours.

Find out more about the Museum’s Smartphone Tours

Thames Gifted a Piece of Military History

The 25-pounder was legendary during World War II, considered as possibly the best field gun of the war.

25 Pounder Field Gun

The National Army Museum has recently gifted the community of Thames a 25-pounder field gun which sits outside the memorial hall and civic centre and has been carefully maintained by local veterans of the Korean War. What better timing for our donation of this artillery piece with another ANZAC Day soon upon us and the growing interest in understanding our national identity through our military history.

This Ordnance Quick Firing 25-pounder, originally on long term loan to the Thames RSA before it closed down, became the standard field gun for all of the British and Commonwealth Forces during World War II, and was later used by the Kiwis in Korea.

Read more about this artilliery artefact.

The latest New Zealand military history news and events for the National Army Museum.