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Anzac Day – Lest we forget

This page might include information, links, and events that are specific to 2019. It will be updated as soon as 2020 information becomes available.

Anzac poppy.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Ka mahi te tawa uho ki te riri.
Well done, you whose courage is like the heart of the tawa tree.

Anzac Day, observed on 25 April every year, commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. This military campaign is often claimed to have played an important part in fostering New Zealand's sense of national identity. Many New Zealanders feel a strong connection to this event, through family and whānau stories. Anzac Day offers every New Zealander the chance to consider the impact of the First World War and remember those who served.

Anzac Day and the New Zealand Curriculum

Learning about the First World War and taking part in Anzac Day commemorations provides an opportunity for students to:

  • demonstrate the curriculum vision of being actively involved, lifelong learners
  • explore the values of community and respect
  • achieve learning outcomes described in the social sciences and other learning areas 
  • make use of key competencies, especially thinking, and using language, symbols, and texts.

Commemorations in the classroom

Here are some classroom ideas to help your students develop deeper understandings about Anzac Day and the First World War:

  • Research family histories and add to the online cenotaph.
  • Investigate soldiers or medics who were part of your staff or school community during the First World War. Create an oral history for the school by recording the stories the students find.
  • Use drama to recreate the experiences of the First World War. Develop characters that can represent and describe different perspectives of war.
  • Compare the First World War to a modern conflict. What are the similarities or differences? Is there anything stopping a World war from happening again? What can we learn from past events? How can remembering World War One shape our future?

Have you seen?

Technology as a part of a cross-curriculum inquiry
This video, from Technology Online, describes how one teacher used Anzac Day and Anzac biscuits as a cross curricular theme that led to rich learning.

Anzac Day resources

New Zealand History Online – Anzac Day
This section on New Zealand History Online provides a range of resources about Anzac Day. The site offers classroom ideas and a media gallery.

A guide to Anzac Day for New Zealanders
This site provides a comprehensive look at Anzac Day with information about the Gallipoli campaign and Anzac Day today.

Returned Services' Association
The RSA website has an Anzac Day section with historical information and upcoming commemoration events. Messages of remembrance can be left on a virtual remembrance wall.

New Zealand On Screen
This Anzac Day collection brings together over forty titles covering Kiwis at war. Iconic documentaries and films tell stories of terrible cost, heroism, and kinship.

Christchurch City Libraries – Anzac Day
This children's page from the Christchurch City Libraries website provides information about Anzac Day and lists related books, resources, and websites.

Links to Gallipoli and First World War resources

First World War inquiry guides and resource packs
The Ministry of Education, the National Library’s Services to Schools, and the WW100 Programme Office have worked together to develop these resources to help students gain insights into the First World War. These resources support students in years 1 to 13 to meet achievement objectives across The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War trails
Follow New Zealand soldiers on the Western Front as Ngā Tapuwae guides you through France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Historical insights, audio stories, and interesting articles bring to life New Zealand’s experience on the Western Front.

New Zealand WW100
The official New Zealand Government website about World War One commemorations covers local and international commemorative events, encourages the sharing of family stories, and looks in depth at the experiences of New Zealanders during the conflict.

First World War map 
This map from New Zealand History Online locates events mentioned in the First World War timeline.

Radio New Zealand – The war to end all wars
Listen to a range of recordings related to Gallipoli and the First World War.

In your resource rooms ...

School journal, Level 4, June 2014.
School Journal, Level 3, June 2014.

  Levels 3 and 4 of the June 2014 School Journals have a focus on the First World War.

First World War Mascots
Many students will be familiar with the use of mascots by sports teams, but they may be surprised to learn that mascots have also been used in wars. This text describes mascots used by New Zealand soldiers in the First World War.

Torty the Lucky Tortoise
This article shares the adventures of Torty, the tortoise rescued by a kiwi stretcher-bearer in Greece during World War One. This true story is told through a variety of text forms including two pages of graphic layout.

Dawn Parade
This book presents a moving account of a child’s first experience of a dawn service. With his dad, Leo watches the marchers with their medals glinting, listens to the speeches and the “Last Post”, and joins in singing the national anthem.

Anzac Day and the key competencies 

Anzac Day provides a useful context to explore the concept of historical significance and develop competence in historical thinking. Students can use critical processes to make sense of the Gallipoli campaign and understand why this particular event is considered a significant part of New Zealand history. Students could also explore the contested nature of war remembrance by questioning and predicting why some events are not commemorated. Partington's Criteria of Historical Significance (1980) can be used as a framework when considering the impact of historical events.

Partington's Criteria of Historical Significance

  • Importance: To people living at the time
  • Profundity: How deeply people's lives were affected by it
  • Quantity: How many lives were affected
  • Durability: For how long people's lives were affected
  • Relevance: The extent to which the event has contributed to an increased understanding of present life 

Using language, symbols, and texts
Anzac memorials are symbolic markers of war, loss, and remembrance. They communicate particular historical narratives and cultural values. Students can develop the key competency, using language, symbols, and texts, by viewing war memorials and evaluating how choices of language, symbols, or texts affect meaning and people's understanding and responses. Students can ask questions such as, "What did the creators of this memorial intend it to say?" and "What did they not intend it to say?"

Use the New Zealand memorials register to find war memorials in or near your community.

Acknowledgement: The ideas for the key competencies section were adapted from a 2011 SET article Historical significance and sites of memory by Michael Harcourt, Gregor Fountain, and Mark Sheehan.

social sciences

Updated on: 20 Feb 2019