'Preserving, celebrating and sharing the stories of a generation of Kiwis who went to war in WWII: 1939-45'


Undertaken for the 70/75th anniversaries of WWII, 'OUR WAR-OUR STORIES' is a range of initiatives designed to capture, preserve and share the personal stories of the New Zealand that went to war in World War II: 1939-45. The source-material is a programme undertaken by a collaboration of professionals and enthusiasts, over 10 years, to film and record the personal accounts of New Zealanders from every walk of life, district of the country, and type of involvement in the war experience. The main format is web-based audio-visual oral history/story centre.


Our World War II men and women lived through a period of vast change, some of history's most sweeping upheavals, and many key milestones in our own country's story. Perhaps the last generation really linked to our colonial and British Empire past, they were born in the shadow of the First World War. Many were deeply impacted in their youth by the hard years of the Depression. They lived through, and many served and fought through 'The War'; then when the they returned - those that returned - they set about building the modern nation we know today. Through their efforts, they gave us our country's 'golden weather' - the period of our greatest prosperity and wealth.

Many of the things we take for granted now in New Zealand, were created by our 'War Generation'.

Their formative experiences - the Depression and 'the War' - shaped much, in ways seen and unseen, for decades to come afterwards. The welfare system and social security was their attempt to protect their and future generations from the injustices and hardships they saw in their youth, and to move towards a fairer society. The values of 'community and service' that underpinned much of the nation in the post-war decades - a country seemingly with an RSA, Lions Club, Rotary or similar community organisation at the heart of every suburb - were born at least partly out of the fellowship experienced in the war.

These were the Kiwis that gave us some of our most cherished national myths and stories, values and role models. 

A Privilege to Know

All the people involved in the production of this project have been endlessly enriched in many different ways by having met and spent time with men and women from our country's WWII generation. Individually and collectively, they have had many experiences, relationships, emotions and memories that we in generations following can barely imagine. They knew so much that we can't ever know. And they have given so much and have contributed so markedly to the country and world we have today. They have so much to share and teach us. 

We can barely express how privileged we feel to have known our interviewees. Nothing had made us prouder to be New Zealanders than to know the country could once produce people like them. 


We believe in the power of personal stories, and the importance of oral history and the recording and treasuring of lives and experiences lived. Not only so we can 'know' our past, in a factual/historical sense, but so we can better understand who we are, today. They can help us see our own human experience in new, rich and meaningful ways. By knowing where we have come from, and where we are today, we get a better picture of where we are going as a nation and people. Our personal/social histories help us understand who we are, and explain why and how things around us are as they are. They educate and teach us; fascinate and entertain. They inspire and uplift. Exploring other peoples' lives and experiences passes-on invaluable gifts of wisdom to us, if we are open to them. 


Many people across the country have contributed material to 'Our-War', some of whom have interesting stories of their own.

Focus on: Patrick Bronte

Patrick has a special reason for his passion for and commitment to interviewing NZ veterans, which he has been doing in the Hawkes Bay and central North Island for over 10 years. He is a major founding part of the Our-War project.

"I want families to know what their grandfather, father or uncle experienced. There are lots of things that they've told me that they haven't spoken to anyone about before." - Patrick


(From: 'Holmes Show'/TVNZ)


For any enquiries, an access password, or to provide feedback/changes etc please contact: ourwar.nz@gmail.com