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Objects of war

Page 1 – Introduction

In 1916 John (Jack) Hoey Moore sent his mother in New Zealand a selection of ‘curios’ he had collected from Gallipoli. Amongst them was a bone-handled knife, which Moore's mother enclosed in an ornate wooden case and used to raise funds for war-ravaged Belgium.

Anzac Jack's souvenir is just one of the thousands of fascinating objects within the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa at Waiouru. The objects of war gallery draws on the museum's collection to illustrate the stories of New Zealanders at war. These objects offer a unique way of experiencing our war history, by seeing and reading about the equipment, souvenirs, and personal belongings of those who were there. 

Some objects evoke memories of a specific time and place: a postal sign souvenired from German Samoa is a tangible link to New Zealand's first overseas action during the First World War; a Maori greenstone patu and German bolt-action rifle trace the technological evolution of warfare.

Others have personal stories attached to them: a pair of riding boots illustrate the tragic story of Richard Riddiford, an officer who survived the Western Front but succumbed to influenza en route home; a hand-carved coconut chess set represents the efforts of prisoner of war Lieutenant Lancelot Herd to survive his three years of captivity.

How to cite this page

Objects of war, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated