New Zealand and Samoa in World War One

Image: New Zealand troops in Samoa, by unknown photographer, 1914. Alexander Turnbull Library. 

When Britain declared war on Germany in early August 1914, over 1300 New Zealand solders landed at Matautu, Apia, on 29 August 1914 and took control of German (Western) Samoa. New Zealand administered Western Samoa until 1962 when it became the first Polynesian county to obtain independence. These selected online resources relate to New Zealand and Samoa in World War One. SCIS 1698529


Index New Zealand

Index New Zealand is a searchable database that contains a range of national newspaper, magazine and journal articles published from the 1950s to the present day. Searching by key words Samoa WWI will give a selection of articles. 

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

National Library of New Zealand

The National Library website contains a variety of material including images, letters and diaries related to New Zealand and Samoa in WW1. Search under subject headings like ‘World War, 1914-1918 - Campaigns – Samoa’, ‘Colonial Administrators’ or use Samoa World War One.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

This section of the Victoria University of Wellington website contains historical texts around the New Zealand seizure, occupation and administration of Samoa as well as texts detailing soldier’s experiences while stationed there.

The War Effort of New Zealand, Chapter II. — The Seizure and Occupation of Samoa

The Samoa (N.Z.) Expeditionary Force 1914–1915

An Account of Samoan History up to 1918. The Native Department under New Zealand Administration

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

New Zealand History Online

This New Zealand history website offers information on the capture and administration of Samoa during the First World War. The site also has material on the impact of the 1918 Flu epidemic in Samoa.

Suggested level: intermediate, secondary

New Zealand Military Nursing

This site features information that recognizes New Zealand nurses and their involvement in military forces. Material includes a roll call and images of nurses that were stationed in Samoa during the First World War.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Papers Past

Papers Past is a searchable online collection of more than two million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945.

Searching by keywords ‘Occupation Samoa’ will give a variety of articles.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary

Te Ara

The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand website – Te Ara, offers a range of information on New Zealand and Samoa in WW1. This section focuses on the pre to post First World War relations of Samoa and New Zealand.

Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary.

University of South Pacific

The University of the South Pacific provides copies of Samoa legislation and law reports, which can offer information on the administrative history of Samoa during and after the war.

Suggested level: secondary


Have you thought about using fiction with your class to support your topic? The following are some suggestions for your students (and you!) to read and enjoy.

Telesa:The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young (YA Fiction)
Nice Day for a War by Matt Elliott - New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2012 Book of the Year.


Images of Samoa in 1949 and others from Archives New Zealand. Archives New Zealand. Youtube. 5:04.

Samoa. NZ on Screen. 16:30