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Public Service at war

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The New Zealand public service played a central part in the dominion’s war effort, both at home and overseas. Among many other things, it administered the training and recruitment of soldiers and managed the bulk purchase of produce for Britain. It struggled to balance the complex needs of keeping the country running in the face of wartime pressures and meeting the requirements of the all-consuming military war effort. More than 8000 public servants served in the war, and over 1000 lost their lives. Articles below were commissioned by the State Services Commission and New Zealand Post.

The Public Service at war - overview

This survey of the work done by the public service at home and abroad during the First World War introduces the other articles in the series.

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The public service in 1914

When the First World War began, New Zealand’s public service employed about 10% of the working population, many in highly skilled roles.

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Getting the men to war

How the Defence Department co-ordinated the vast job of enlisting and training New Zealand men, and sending them to the First World War.

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Feeding Britain

The ‘imperial commandeer’ - how the government overcame great difficulties to despatch New Zealand produce to wartime Britain.

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Maintaining public services

How the public service coped with the pressures of war as thousands of staff left to serve overseas.

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Policing the war effort

How police toiled to ‘keep the peace’ with the assistance of stringent new wartime laws. 

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Repatriation of returned servicemen

How the public service created a repatriation system – and then dismantled it. 

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Honouring public servants

The rolls, memorials and other ways that public servants who died in war were remembered.

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NZ Railways at war

The rail system and its workforce played a crucial role in supporting the national effort during the First World War

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The Post and Telegraph Department at war

The Post and Telegraph Department maintained communications at home while its staff played vital roles at the front 

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