The Empire Called and the Dominions Responded: Remembering the First World War in New Zealand


  • Sarah Murray Canterbury Museum


New Zealand, First World War, Gallipoli, Te Papa Tongarewa, Canterbury, Museum, Exhibition, Commemoration


The Northern Review 44 (2017): 415–426

The centenary of the First World War offers a timely opportunity to reflect on experiences of war on the periphery of the British Empire. Although separated by more than 12,000 kilometres, the involvement of New Zealanders and Canadians during the conflict, both on the home front and battle front, share many similarities. Over one hundred years later, these experiences are at the forefront of the public consciousness as both nations commemorate the First World War in a number of ways. This article critically assesses commemoration activities in New Zealand by exploring a national museum exhibition in the nation’s capital, Wellington, and a collaborative regional program in Canterbury. It explores in detail the approach of New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, in its First World War exhibition Gallipoli: The Scale of our War before turning to focus on the work of Canterbury100, a collaborative group of cultural organizations situated in Canterbury. In reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of these commemorative activities, it is clear museums and the public they serve benefit from a wide range of collaborations and that regional, national, and international perspectives offer depth and context to centennial commemorations. This article is part of a special collection of papers originally presented at a conference on “The North and the First World War,” held May 2016 in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Author Biography

Sarah Murray, Canterbury Museum

Curatorial Manager






The North and the First World War