Wellington - Lest We Forget

This free multimedia event occurred during the 100 year anniversary of the first troops leaving New Zealand. The event took place at several historic sites and was designed to remember Wellington city and her people over the four year period of the First World War.

Lest We Forget - Wall Stories

Occurred: 11-18 October 2014

Wellingtonians who experienced the war first-hand took to the street once more in a series of Wall Stories that were pasted up around the city.

From a population of one million, 100,000 New Zealanders were directly involved in the First World War, including 18,000 who died and 47,000 who were wounded. To illustrate these figures ten representative Wellingtonians were found and researched.

Images of ten soldiers – including one Māori Pioneer Battalion soldier – one nurse and one conscientious objector were pasted up along with their personal stories around the city, near the places they lived, worked and went to school.

Reaching from Wellington’s suburbs and into the heart of the city centre, these wall stories provided the opportunity for people to connect with past residents who lived normal lives until war was declared one hundred years ago.

There were more than 500 wall stories that went up around the city and suburbs. Central locations included the Basin Reserve, Cable Car Lane, Civic Square and at the Railway Station. The wall stories also appeared in the suburbs of Island Bay, Johnsonville, Karori, Lyall Bay, Miramar, Mount Victoria, Newtown, Oriental Bay, Otaki, Roseneath, Seatoun, Wadestown, and Worser Bay. 

Research for this project was conducted at Archives New Zealand, Wellington City Archives and the Alexander Turnbull Library. Wellington City Council also sincerely thanks the living relatives of these ten representatives.

Lest We Forget - Projections

One hundred years ago, on 16 October 1914, 10 troop ships left Wellington, carrying more than 8000 New Zealand soldiers – the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force that fought in the First World War.

To commemorate this date and the significant role played by the Capital and its residents, the public spaces of the city were used to bring the past into the present.


Occurred: 8–12pm, St James Theatre façade

Showing Wellington as it was during World War One; Homefront featured scenes of children leaping off the Eastbourne wharf, families and young men lounging on Lyall Bay beach, rugby and tennis games, and local industry hard at work. The footage of a “quiet, innocent, peaceful, colonial New Zealand” is juxtaposed with the ballots and posters calling for National Registration.

Berry & Co. Collection

Occurred: 8–10.30pm, 147 Cuba Street façade

The former premises of the Berry & Co. photography studio exhibited images of young men taken a century ago at the studio – some alone, some with their loved ones – before they set off for the front line. Since 2011, Te Papa has been working to identify more than 100 soldiers whose portraits were among glass plate negatives found at the historic Cuba Street building in the 1980s.


Occurred: 8–10.30pm, Shed 1 façade

Film footage and images of the 8,000 soldiers who left on the ships covered Shed 1 on the waterfront. The voices of veterans and letters from departing soldiers immersed passers-by in the stories of those who once stood on the same waterfront, preparing for the long voyage ahead.

Lest We Forget was curated by Wellington City Council in partnership with Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (formerly the New Zealand Film Archive) and Te Papa. This project was made possible with their support and the contribution of the many images and hours of archival footage they contributed.


Full credits and acknowledgements