Passchendaele activities

Page 2 – Remembering the dead

If your school was in existence at the time of the First World War (or perhaps the Second World War) chances are that ex-pupils who served in the armed forces have been acknowledged in some way. It might be in the name of a building or a school trophy or award. Perhaps a roll of honour to those who served or were killed while fighting overseas is displayed somewhere in your school.

Acknowledging the sacrifices of those who served or died was an important way for communities to make sense of the human cost of war. Whether they believed soldiers’ sacrifice was for ‘King and country’, for ‘the glory of God’ or enabled their names to ‘liveth for evermore’, most New Zealand communities have monuments that remember the dead.

In you will find a memorials register that has details of over 450 public First World War memorials. This is organised on a regional basis. There are gaps in the records. We invite you to check your local First World War memorial to see if there is any further information that you could provide. We want to add more lists of the names of the First World War dead that appear on the memorials. We also welcome images where these are missing from the register. If you can help, please send your information to [email protected], and we will add it to the register. If you wish to nominate a First World War memorial that does not appear on our register, please include an image and any information about the memorial, such as its unveiling date and exact location.

Use this register to help explore how communities memorialised those who served and died. Some of the activities that follow can be used to introduce your class to this concept or to explore its impact on the school or wider community. They might be posed as questions you could use to brainstorm how you might ultimately explore this theme as a class, syndicate or school. These teaching ideas were designed with the First World War in mind, but if it is more appropriate to your school, they could be easily adapted to fit the Second World War.

  1. If your school was in existence during the First World War:
    • Did any ex-pupils from your school serve overseas? If so, how many?
    • Were any killed? If so, how many?
    • How does your school acknowledge the contribution made by ex-pupils who served in the First World War? Provide a written description or image of the ways in which these contributions are acknowledged.
  2. If your school has an honours board listing those who served or were killed:
    • How prominently is it located in the school?
    • Have your students taken much notice of it in the past?
    • What does it mean to them? For instance, is it ever acknowledged in school ceremonies, for example, Anzac Day?
  3. What are some of the ways students at your school today could acknowledge and remember those former pupils who lost their lives in the First World War?
  4. How does your local community commemorate and acknowledge its citizens who served or died in the First World War?
    • Provide a written description or image of the ways in which these contributions are acknowledged.
    • Can you find the names of ex-pupils on the local memorial or cenotaph?
  5. You might want to discuss with your class the nature of the memorials you have been looking at. Some questions to consider could include:
    • the type or nature of the memorial
    • the tone of the inscription – what is being honoured?
    • the importance of the memorial to people at the time of its construction – why was it necessary?
How to cite this page

'Remembering the dead', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 2-Sep-2014