Current: * Work-in-Progress Prototype Preview (v1.2) - March/April 2017, now finished *

 

  

ABOUT: 

OUR-WAR (WWII) is a project undertaken to mark the 70/75th anniversary milestones of World War II. The aim is to record, share and celebrate the stories of New Zealand men and women from our wartime generation; and to make them easily-accessible and engaging to current and future generations using digital media.

Believed to be one of the largest projects of its type ever done in NZ, we sought to interview and record professionally as many of the remaining veterans as we could; covering as complete a range of topics, themes and experiences of the times as possible; and to reach every district and town in the country - to make it a truly nationally representative story collection.

Undertaken over the duration of more than a decade, hundreds of interviews were recorded, with a selection of 500 going into this first project format - an online interactive oral-history/story archive to be based at a number of national museums/centres. These interviews have been supplemented by scores of letters, diary excerpts and memoirs, and related objects etc. This first prototype includes nearly 1,000 hours of edited video, and 5,000+ photographs. Later stages will add content from other sources and other formats. 

 

 

This material doesn't claim (or try) to be a definitive factual war history. Others have done that well already. OUR-WAR is a memory project. Personal histories. Viewers/listeners will find often deeply personal and intimate recollections of times that for many participants, were amongst the most emotional and keenly-felt of their lives; and that remain vivid after all these years. Most stories have never been told publically before. Some have never been told to anyone, even their families.

 

 

We wished to present some of the personal living voices and faces of our country's experience of war and conflict - the 'human stories behind the story'. We want to engage and connect, especially younger New Zealanders of today and tomorrow, to the subject and people involved, and encourage a lifelong desire to explore further from other sources. Hopefully then in some small way, we can add to the richness and meaning of remembrance over these anniversary periods.

We feel extremely proud and privileged to have spent time with these men and women, some of our last living voices from the era. It has been an incredible and deeply-moving journey for the production team. Our first heartfelt thanks to you, and everyone else who helped get the project this far. We look forward sharing more material in the future as the project develops. 

 

 

SOME FEEDBACK SO FAR:

"Patrick (OurWar team) has done a fantastic job in recording the experiences of many of our Second World War veterans. He established an impressive rapport with many of them and obtained information that will be of great historical importance. His efforts are greatly to be commended, and the website he has created will contribute greatly to our understanding of New Zealand’s involvement in the most traumatic conflict in the history of mankind."

Dr IAN MCGIBBON, ONZM (Historian and widely acclaimed author of over 15 books, incl: The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (ed., 2000), New Zealand and the Second World War: The People, The Battles and the Legacy (2004), New Zealand's Great War: New Zealand, the Allies and the First World War (2007), The Penguin Book of New Zealanders at War (co-ed., 2009), and New Zealand's Vietnam War (2010))

"...OurWar project was conceived to capture and share the New Zealand experience of the Second World War. It has been compiled by Patrick Bronte, a young film-maker and historian with his own significant challenges in life."

"OurWar is inspirational. It has preserved for all New Zealanders an invaluable window to the past. What Patrick and the team have done with this project should be utilised by all military historians and those with an interest in the events that have shaped New Zealand."

"OurWar is a towering achievement and a fitting tribute to New Zealand veterans of the Second World War."

GLYN HARPER QSM, Phd, MA(Hons), BA, Dip Tchng. (Professor of War Studies, Massey University. Author (incl): Kippenberger: An Inspired New Zealand Commander; In the Face of the Enemy: The complete history of the Victoria Cross and New Zealand; Dark Journey: Three Key Battles of the Western Front; Images of War: World War One: A Photographic Record of New Zealanders at War 1914–1918 and his most recent Letters from Gallipoli: New Zealand Soldiers Write Home.; Le Quesnoy, Jim's Letters; Roly, the Anzac Donkey.)

 

 

"I have known Patrick (OurWar team) as a student of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies for around eight years. In that time, Patrick has impressed me…his real strength, and passion…is his selfless dedication to the collection of oral histories from New Zealand’s war veterans."

"In this area, Patrick has undertaken hundreds of interviews with veterans from the Second World War through to more recent operations in an effort to capture their stories and to ensure important aspects of New Zealand’s history are preserved and shared. In doing this, Patrick has a unique ability to connect with veterans and in doing do collect and share data, along with the emotions that go with it, that others have not been able to achieve previously. In this sense, Patrick has created a rich database of New Zealand’s history that will serve as an important educational resource for scholars, practitioners, families and wider society."

"Patrick’s achievements, along with his selflessness in undertaking a project that has benefit for all of New Zealand, is not only commendable but given the significant challenges Patrick has had to overcome to achieve these, it is inspirational."

"I am both honoured and humbled to write this note for Patrick and the project, and strongly endorse their efforts."

NICK NELSON (Centre of Defence & Strategic Studies, Massey University)

 

 

“I have been aware for many years of the work Patrick Bronte has been doing to collect oral accounts of New Zealanders who have served this country. The body of material is of immense value to our nation and will be a toanga for generations to come. Not only has Patrick interviewed, in some cases, soldiers who had not spoken for decades or ever to anyone outside those who shared their experience, there were also moments of understanding that led to healing processes. A healing of wounds carried deep and for a long time. Patrick’s respectful and gentle approach has enabled many of our veteran’s voices to come through to us.” 

“I fully support this endeavour and encourage those who value our history, and those who have allowed us to write it, to stand beside this remarkable man and his unwavering dedication to our veterans.”

DR CARL BRADLEY (The Centre for Defence and Security Studies, Massey University)

"It gives me great pleasure to write a recommendation… I first encountered Patrick (OurWar Team) and his work some years ago while doing research for my second book In Love and War: Kiwi Soldiers Romantic Encounters in Wartime Italy (Penguin, 2012)… I was lucky to be able to interview many veterans in person for my two books Fighting with the Enemy: Kiwi POWs and the Italian Resistance (Penguin, 2003) and In Love and War. However, just about all have since died and with them their precious stories, which are an invaluable testimony to our nation’s developing selfhood. The voices and experiences of ordinary soldiers are often overlooked in accounts of military history. For this reason, Patrick’s tireless work in tracking down, interviewing and recording so many veterans over the years deserves to be recognized and supported. His website will be an important resource for future historians, researchers and novelists, not to mention descendants, and his desire to develop it to the highest possible standards is laudable."

"I cannot recommend this website and its potential highly enough. If I were to write a third book on World War Two I would need to have such a resource available. Patrick’s goals and vision deserve to be given as much support as possible."

DR SUSAN JACOBS PhD, MA (Hons), BA (University of Auckland), Diploma of Teaching (ACE), Diploma Corso Superiore, Perugia, Italy.

"...Few have done more than Patrick (OurWar team) to preserve the story of NZ's military history..."

ALEX HEDLEY (Editor, writer and photographer. Author: Fernleaf Cairo (2009))

 

 

Tony Madden. 4th RMT, ASC (4th Reinf), 2NZEF: Battle for Crete - Remembering a Debt to the Cretans - Sponsoring a Family to Emigrate to NZ in the 1960s

 

“I am the son of a World War two veteran who served in Italy. I have been lucky and privileged to not only hear my fathers war stories but to meet and hear many veterans stories. My son and daughter have also had that special privilege but sadly with the passing of time these wonderful men and women are leaving us and a lot of their stories go with them, lost forever."

"This website and exhibition is, and will become, a wonderful link to the past whereby future generations will be able to watch these interviews at school and/or home. Even though the veterans will have gone the viewer will be able to get a better understanding and appreciation of what they, the veterans, went through and also with this intimate approach feel that they are with the veteran. I remember watching interviews that were finally done with some of our last World War 1 veterans and wished then that someone had had the foresight that the OURWAR team has had with the OURWAR website."

"Spread the word. I find the many stories from all services and theatres of World War Two on this site compelling"

PETER SCOTT (Chairman, Italy Star Association NZ)

 

 

"Here is a remarkable project intended to fill the regrettable gap to date in the documentation of New Zealanders’ participation in World War II. In some 500+ audio-visual interviews men and women who served in all the services record their experiences of that turbulent period in which so many lives were affected and such change to the world occurred.

The project was initiated over 10 years ago when Richard and the small team began to interview WWII veterans then still living. But for their foresight, enterprise and dedication there’s no doubt that many of the stories recorded at first hand with these veterans would have been lost.As it is, there exists an extensive and rich resource which will become available to New Zealanders via military and other museums, also to libraries and schools."

TONY VERCOE ((formerly 22 Battalion 2NZEF). Author of Yesterday’s Drums (Steele Roberts, 2001) and Survival at Stalag IVB (McFarland & Co. Inc., 2006))

"I am one of some 500+ veterans interviewed for the project 'OUR WAR OUR STORIES' and have kept in touch for some years. I have appreciated the dedication and expertise of the team and the fine job they are doing. It is important that the stories of the WW11 veterans from their personal experiences be preserved as it is all part of our history which otherwise would be lost. From these stories future generations would come to understand the sacrifices made by ordinary New Zealanders in the cause of peace and freedom."

NEIL HARTON (Formerly Lieut. RNZNVR, Royal Navy Coastal Forces (Chev.LH))

 

 

THIS WORK-IN-PROGRESS PREVIEW WAS MADE POSSIBLE WITH SUPPORT FROM THE NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM, AIR FORCE MUSEUM WIGRAM, NAVY MUSEUM TORPEDO BAY & MOTAT. OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED (SEE 'CREDITS'), ESPECIALLY OUR VETERAN MEN AND WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES.

Note: Due to extensive use of streaming video and images, faster broadband internet connection is required for best viewing. Speakers or headphones are recommended for audio.

 

 

Roy Tucker. 20th Battalion (1st Echelon), 2NZEF: Crete