This page outlines how the material on Anzac Day and the Gallipoli campaign can be used by teachers and students of social studies and history. Teachers and students will find this material authoritative and accessible. It is written and organised so that you can quickly find the material most relevant to your needs.

It is not our intention to provide an exhaustive list of teaching activities but rather to provide some ideas to help busy teachers get started.

We welcome feedback. Please use the comments box at the bottom of this page.

Anzac Day

Anzac Day in New Zealand is held on 25 April each year to commemorate New Zealanders killed in war and to honour returned servicemen and women. The day has similar importance in Australia, New Zealand's partner in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli.

Anzac Day commemorates an event that has made an indelible mark on our national history. It offers teachers and students an opportunity to consider New Zealand's participation in war in general and the consequences of this for many New Zealanders, their families and communities. It must be remembered that the day itself was part of a wider campaign.

Additional material is available on the First World War in general, and, a guide to Anzac Day for New Zealanders, is an essential site for teachers and students. 

Social studies

Anzac Day is an integral part of the social studies programme in many schools. It can be explored as a significant current and historical event for New Zealand. 

Some students will have participated in activities on Anzac Day, so it is a good way of incorporating their experiences into the classroom. 

In a Level 4 social studies programme, a study of Anzac Day could be incorporated into 'Time, continuity and change', which examines how the causes and effects of the Gallipoli campaign, or war in general, have shaped the lives of New Zealanders. In 'Culture and heritage' students could use New Zealand's participation in the Gallipoli campaign, or war in general, to explore why and how individuals and groups pass on and maintain their culture and heritage.

In a Level 5 social studies programme Anzac Day could be incorporated into coverage of 'Culture and heritage' by exploring how participation in the Gallipoli campaign, or war in general, developed and maintained a sense of cultural and national identity. In 'Place and environment' students could consider why particular places or surroundings such as Gallipoli or other major locations where New Zealanders have fought are significant to people. Closer to home, a local war memorial could also be used to focus the study.

For more detail on specific activities relating to this topic go to social studies Anzac Day activities and War and Rembrance activities in The Classroom. 

NCEA history

Anzac Day and its associated themes could be the basis of numerous research topics in NCEA history, for instance:

  • a study of Anzac Day and Gallipoli's place in the emergence of a national identity (remember also that this event was of huge importance to the emergence of modern Turkey)
  • a wider examination of New Zealand's experiences in war
  • a local study looking at the impact of Gallipoli and of war in general on local communities in New Zealand
  • family histories associated with the impact of Gallipoli and of war in general
  • an extension to or part of an existing history topic, for example, in year 12 'The origins of World War I' or 'The growth of New Zealand identity 1830–1980'.

Myths & Misconceptions

Anzac Day and the Gallipoli campaign it originally commemorated are the subject of much misinformation. Here are some of the more common myths and misconceptions.

That we won!

Not true. In military terms the Gallipoli campaign was a disaster which saw thousands of young men killed for no real benefit to the Allied war effort. The Allied forces were defeated by the Turkish army and by January 1916 they were forced to evacuate the Gallipoli peninsula. The reasons for Anzac Day becoming such a source of national pride are complex, but can be traced to the fact that it was the first significant engagement of New Zealand troops in the First World War. The daily lists of fatalities appearing in the newspapers back home became a source of great pride in our country's sacrifice and contribution, as well as sorrow.

That more New Zealanders were killed at Gallipoli than in any other campaign in the First World War.

Not true. In fact many more New Zealanders were killed on the Western Front (12,483). However, the 2779 New Zealanders who were killed represented about a sixth of those who took part in the campaign.

That all the action took place on Anzac Day or immediately afterwards.

Not true. In fact the campaign dragged on for months with New Zealand troops being killed right up until they were evacuated in December 1915. About 3100 of the approximately 17,000 New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli landed on 25 April. More New Zealanders were killed in August than any other month.

That the main attack was at Anzac Cove

Not true. It is commonly believed that Australia and New Zealand were the most important allied forces at Gallipoli. In fact the main attack was in the south at Cape Helles, not at Anzac Cove, and there were thousands of soldiers from Britain, India and France involved.

That New Zealanders landed at dawn on 25 April and this is why we have the dawn ceremony on Anzac Day.

Not true. In fact the first New Zealanders didn't land until after 9am and most landed after the middle of the day, though the 3rd Australian Brigade did land just before dawn. The first official dawn ceremony as part of Anzac Day commemorations was held in Australia in 1927; New Zealand did not adopt this practice widely until 1939.

That Poppy Day is another name for Anzac Day.

Not true. In fact Poppy Day is usually the Friday before Anzac Day. The poppies are traditionally then worn on the left lapel for a few days, but especially on Anzac Day. See the NZRSA site for more information.

Community contributions

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Posted: 29 Apr 2009

The Activity Anzac Quiz Is Very Cool But I Only Got A Bronze Medal Otaki College Girl, 11