Passchendaele in schools


The objectives of the Passchendaele Society are based on the Ypres Agreement of 4th October 2007 where the Flemish Government and the New Zealand Government agreed to cooperate in the field of shared history of the World Wars of the twentieth century.

Our prime objective is to enhance community awareness and recognition of the events at Passchendaele and the Western Front related to the Great War of 1914-1918. Within this overall context our specific objectives are to increase broad community recognition, educate younger generations, honour the war dead, preserve heritage material and encourage tourism to commemorative sites in Flanders and New Zealand.


To commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in 2017 we worked with the Ministry of Education and the Fields of Remembrance Trust to organise a competition whereby 16, 17 and 18 year old students in all New Zealand schools were asked to produce a curriculum resource on the Battle of Passchendaele for younger students delivered through the innovative use of digital technologies. The Ministry described the digital resources created by participating students as of an exceptional quality and available for subsequent generations to ensure that the sacrifices made by New Zealanders are not forgotten. The ten winners of the competition participated in a ten day tour of the centennial commemorative activities in Flanders.


The Ministry subsequently encouraged us to communicate the learning’s from Passchendaele through schools, teachers and students and suggested this can best be done by linking those learning’s with broader curriculum learning areas and the effective pedagogues in social sciences outlined in the New Zealand Curriculum. The role played by teachers in this process is obviously paramount but in order to provide a starting point the Passchendaele Society have prepared our suggestions on some of the areas where lessons can be learned from Passchendaele.


There is general agreement among historians that one word has become the metaphor for the horrors of war and that word is Passchendaele.

The world was shocked in 1916 when one million casualties resulted from the Battle of the Somme and despite the evidence that the attacking army lost more men than the defending forces, British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig’s planned response in 1917 was to attempt to drive the Germans out of Belgium at Passchendaele. His documented strategy recognised the inevitability of more casualties  but controversially emphasized that Britain and its colonies had access to a bigger pool of manpower than the Germans.

The British Prime Minister David Lloyd George was opposed to the Passchendaele Offensive and what he was later to describe as “the most futile and bloody fight ever waged in the history of war” resulted in half a million casualties.

The differing views of the British Prime Minister and his Commander-in- Chief offers an excellent starting position to examine war and its consequences.


A learning series could also be developed on “THE PEOPLE WHO MADE NEW ZEALAND” including the first Polynesian arrivals, the early European settlers, the colonial wars, the Treaty of Waitangi, the land wars and linking this with the First World War as New Zealand made its presence known on the world stage. The significance of Passchendaele, which has been described as New Zealand’s darkest day, is of major importance to the emergence of New Zealand as a nation state and had a significant influence to our thinking and our social, economic and political development.


The Ministry of Education’s Passchendaele Centennial Competition in 2017 encouraged Defeyd Williams, Head of History at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton (and a member of the Passchendaele Society) to enter a team comprising Dylan Woodhouse, Tony Wu, Lucy Tustin and Connor Harrigen in the competition.

The Passchendaele Society subsequently obtained rights to their winning entry which now features in the Learning’s and Resources segment of our website.

Schools, teachers and students are invited to utilize this resource by linking it with other areas in the social sciences curriculum to answer questions such as “Examine how a significant historical event affected New Zealand society” from a recent New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Level 2 History paper.


The Passchendaele Society therefore invite schools, teachers and students to utilise the Learning and Resources section in our website to assist them in their research. This section contains:

Passchendaele Centennial Competition 2017 Winning Entry: 

The Passchendaele Offensive:

Passchendaele in the Context of the First World War:

The Auckland Battalion:

Lessons from Passchendaele:

Any emailed questions on this material will be responded to by the Passchendaele Society members who compiled this information.

Questions from an educational perspective about utilizing “Passchendaele in Schools” can be addressed to  Passchendaele Society Member  and Head of History at St Paul’s Collegiate, Hamilton.