Family history

Group portrait of four men in military uniform - 1916. Military history

Information about armed forces and military campaigns that New Zealanders have served in.


The first major overseas conflict involving New Zealanders. The Australian and New Zealand Corps (ANZAC) landed at what became known as Anzac Cove on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula.  In conjunction with British and French forces in the area, the aim was to secure the Dardanelles and force Turkey out of the war, thus gaining access to the Black Sea and their ally, Russia.

Browse the Gallipoli online exhibition

Read more about Gallipoli

South African (or Boer) War (1899-1902)

Previously known as the Boer War this was the first overseas campaign in which New Zealand forces served. The contingent numbered around 6500 men.

Read more about the South African war

The Armed Constabulary (1867-1877)

Originally both soldiers and sworn police, including both Maori and Pakeha, by 1870 they had become more armed police, while engaging in public works such as road and bridge building.

Read more about the Armed Constabulary

The British Army in New Zealand

Many settlers came to New Zealand as soldiers in the Imperial Army and took their discharge here. We have records of pay, punishments and postings for the 65th Regiment while it was in New Zealand and the Armoury Information Centre at the Auckland War Memorial Museum has those for other regiments. 

Read more about the British Army

The New Zealand wars

Previously referred to as the Land Wars, these military engagements were fought between 1843 and 1872. We have many books on this topic and original documents, maps of the conflicts, and plans of pa are held in the Sir George Grey Special Collections in the Central City Library. The Journals of the Deputy Quartermaster in New Zealand is a very useful and detailed volume which describes the construction of the Great South Road and daily events the Taranaki and Waikato Wars from 1861 to 1864.

Read more about the New Zealand Wars

The Royal New Zealand Fencibles

The Royal New Zealand Fencibles were retired soldiers recruited in Britain as armed settlers for the defence of Auckland. The 721 men and their families arrived in Auckland between 1847 and 1852, and were given land at Howick, Panmure, Otahuhu, and Onehunga. A Fencible settlement has been recreated at Howick Historical village. Auckland Libraries has a range of records.

Read more about the Fencibles

World War I (1914-1918)

Over 100,000 New Zealanders served in World War I, of whom 18,000 lost their lives. The Sir George Grey Special Collections has war diaries, letters and postcards from the period, along with maps of battlefields. The Central Auckland Research Centre hold a number of official war histories and details of military enrolments. New Zealand casualities are commemorated on the website administered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  

Read more about World War I


World War II (1939-1945)

New Zealanders were involved both on the home front and in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour and the entry of the United States of America into the war, New Zealand had a friendly invasion by 100,000 American troops. See the official New Zealand war histories for World War II.  

Read more about World War II

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