This selection highlights life in New Zealand and Australia in the lead up to the declaration of War in August 1914.
The colonial governments of both Australia and New Zealand were loyal the British Empire and many people still thought of England as “home”. New Zealand was dependent on Britain for the sale of wool, frozen mean and dairy - the farming products that dominated the economy into the 21st Century. The pastoral industry and manufacturing dominated the prosperous Australian economy.
Ena Ryan, in the audio Household pets join the forces, explained the declaration of war as 'The door shutting on this quiet, innocent, peaceful colonial New Zealand' Images in this collection – race days, picnics, society weddings and beach scenes – support that point of view. Jostled among them however, are images that show an increasing preparedness for war, for example New Zealand’s commissioning of the HMS New Zealand, or the introduction of compulsory military training (introduced in New Zealand in 1909 and Australia in 1911).