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Remembering: Resources for Anzac Day

April 5th, 2018 By Dylan Owen

The Gallipoli campaign was a defeat for the Allies but paradoxically its tragic nature ensured the 'birth' of the Anzac tradition and subsequent widespread and ongoing commemoration.

To support this interest, the National Library can provide useful teaching resources in a range of media to engage students with Anzac Day and World War 1 (WW1) topics.

'Too terrible for anything'

My, won’t my uncle have a lot to tell when he comes home! He said in one of his letters that it was almost too terrible for anything, and that he did not want to remember it. The things he saw, he said, were enough to make anyone go mad.
— Grant from Pukerau (15.3.16) from Dear Dot, I Must Tell You: A Personal History of Young New Zealanders by Keith Scott.

April 25, 2018 marks 103 years since the first ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in April 1915. It is also a day we reflect on the tragic losses suffered by every country caught up in the campaign.

ANZAC crosses in a field with poppies.
Anzac Day 2015 by Kathrin and Stefan Marks. CC BY-NC 2.0

Impressions changed quickly in 1915

However, it was very different at the start of the Gallipoli invasion. There was bravado and optimism as this 1915 article from the Oamaru Mail reveals in quoting from a speech by Sir Winston Churchill who championed the Gallipoli campaign:

Beyond those four miles of ridge and scrub on which our soldiers, our French comrades, our gallant Australian and New Zealand fellow-subjects are now battling, lie the downfall of a hostile empire, the destruction of an enemy's fleet and army, the fall of a world-famous capital, and probably the accession of powerful allies. The struggle will be heavy, the risks numerous, the losses cruel; but victory, when it comes, will make amends for all...
Oamaru Mail, Papers Past

But by July 1915, thoughts of a quick victory had evaporated as the ANZACs found themselves literally facing a grim up-hill battle for survival. Even the Commander of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Major General Godley, expressed strong doubts (privately) about Churchill and his Dardanelles plan.

I hear that Winston Churchill has arrived, and suppose we shall see him within the next few days. He certainly is a plucky fellow, and I think he ought to be given a V.C. and then taken out and shot. I wonder what sort of reception he will get if he comes among the troops, whether they will cheer, or shoot him…
— Letter extract by Major General Godley to the NZ Minister of Interior, Ronald Graham, July 1915 from Behind the Lines: The Lives of New Zealand Soldiers in the First World War by Nicholas Boyack.

National Library's Anzac and World War 1 resources

Explore these resources with your students.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer presents quality, curated New Zealand and overseas resources, covering a wide range of digitised material to support and inspire inquiry. Topic sets relevant to Anzac Day include:

Many Answers

Many Answers entries are designed to guide students to find quality resources on specific topics including:

First World War inquiry guide and resources

The Ministry of Education’s First World War inquiry guides and resources are a comprehensive look at World War 1 from a New Zealand perspective. Teachers can use the years 1–13 inquiry guides and resource packs to help students explore World War 1 events and experiences and link them to their own lives and communities.

The English inquiry guides are aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum, while the resource packs in Māori are aligned with Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Secondary level inquiry guides contain an extensive number of subjects including propaganda, freedom and censorship, conscientious objectors, refugees, Pacific soldiers, and the Māori response to the Great War.

The primary inquiry guides also cover a wide and interesting range of World War 1 related topics like:

  • Anzac Day
  • The Donkey Man
  • Animals at war
  • Town memorials
  • The Anzac poppy.


Websites offering a unique New Zealand take on Anzac Day include:


Why not also dip into our extensive fiction and non-fiction Schools Lending Collection to order Anzac-themed books like the following:

  • ANZAC Animals by Maria Gill — features 20 animals that ‘served’ with ANZACs in both world wars. Primary, intermediate. Non-fiction.
  • Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry — this book exposes the rich history behind Anzac Day. Primary, intermediate, secondary. Non-fiction.
  • Anzac Day Parade by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen — a picture book story of the meeting of a young boy and an old man on Anzac Day. Primary. Picture book.
  • ANZAC Heroes by Maria Gill — an 88-page illustrated children's non-fiction book about ANZAC soldiers and nurses. Upper-primary, intermediate, secondary. Non-fiction.
  • Best Mates: Three Lads Who Went to War Together by Philippa Werry — three young soldiers are best mates from school. They leave New Zealand together to go and fight at Gallipoli. Primary. Picture book.
  • Bobby the Littlest War Hero by Glyn Harper — Bobby is a canary and his best friend is a Royal Engineer tunneller. Primary, intermediate. Picture book.
  • Lest We Forget by Feana Tuʻakoi — '"War is stupid"', mumbled Tyson as he slammed the last photo album shut'. Primary. Picture book.
  • The Anzac Violin: Alexander Aitken's Story by Jennifer Beck — a true story about a violin and a remarkable ANZAC soldier from Otago. Primary, intermediate. Picture book.


You can also explore Journal Surf for more of these Anzac-themed School Journal stories:

  • Anzac Biscuits by Philippa Werry, Year 4: Part 02 No. 03: 2007: 10-13
  • The Anzac Button by Judy Raymond, Year 4: Level 2 Feb: 2012: 2–7
  • Poem for Anzac Day by Judy Raymond, Year 4: Level 2 Feb: 2012: 8–9
  • Dawn Service by Ashleigh Young, Year 7: Level 4 June: 2014: 14–15
  • Boy Soldiers by Norman Bilbrough, Year 5: Part 04 No. 03: 2008: 2–9.

True Anzac spirit

Finally, for something Anzac that will fascinate students, see Jeannie Skinner’s blog post about our last surviving ANZAC veteran, Torty.

Now well over a century old and war-wounded, Torty is still going strong.

That’s the Anzac spirit!

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