France and New Zealand during the Great War:
the Centenary Conference 1918-2018

organized by the University of Waikato and the Le Quesnoy City Council

On 5 August 1914, Lord Liverpool, Governor-General of New Zealand announced Great- Britain’s declaration of war against the Austro-Hungarian empire. New Zealand, a British dominion since 1907, then established the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force (1st NZEF) which would recruit over 120,000 men throughout the conflict. The New Zealand government sent occupation forces in German Samoa in August 1914 and, two months later, a body of 8,500 men to the Middle East. After a disastrous campaign in the Dardanelles, the New Zealand troops were then reorganized and reinforced by the end of 1915. The New Zealand division was then deployed to the Western Front in May 1916 while a smaller contingent stayed in Palestine. The Diggers took part in the 1st Battle of the Somme, where they suffered their highest casualties of the war. The following year, they fought in Ypres, Messines and, Passchendaele in late 1917. Both mentally and physically exhausted, the New Zealanders were sent near Amiens in a desperate attempt to stop the front line being breached by the Germans. Two months later Amiens was liberated. Thus began the 100 day offensive which would conclude for New Zealand troops with the liberation of the fortified town of Le Quesnoy on 4 November 1918.

Beyond languages and cultures, a strong relationship has grown between the inhabitants of Le Quesnoy and the New Zealand veterans and their descendants. This friendship is still going strong and many New Zealanders visit Le Quesnoy while they are travelling or on their O.E in Europe. Over the years, these historical links have been reinforced and transformed into cultural exchanges symbolized in 1999 by the twinning of Le Quesnoy with Cambridge in the Waipa region, a unique relationship in France and New Zealand history.

As part of the Centenary commemorations, the town of Le Quesnoy and the French Department at the University of Waikato in New Zealand are organizing the Centenary Conference France and New Zealand during the Great war 1918-2018.

The Conference will be held at the Trois Chênes Theatre in Le Quesnoy on 2 & 3 November 2018.

There will be two keynote speakers:

  • Christopher Pugsley, ONZM, DPhil, FRHistS (Vice President of the Western Front Association, former lecturer at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy). His latest book is The Camera in the Crowd: Filming New Zealand in War and Peace, 1895-1920.
  • Michaël Bourlet, Head of Military History at Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan Military schools has recently published L'armée américaine dans la Grande Guerre (Ouest France).

Papers presented will go beyond a military approach to the conflict and support a socio-historical and multi-disciplinary perspective.

  • life in occupied France
  • life in the trenches
  • living in New Zealand during the Great War
  • Pākehā and Māori during the conflict
  • first impressions between New Zealanders and the French
  • first impressions of France/ romanticized portrait of France
  • commemorations and war memorials
  • myths and realities of war
  • art and war
  • literature and remembrance


Send an email (in French or English) of 200 words to Dr Nathalie Philippe with a 50 word bio.

Dr Nathalie Philippe

University of Waikato
FASS/School of Arts/ French/
Private Bag 3105
Hamilton 3240
New Zealand

Date: 1 April 2018.

There will be no parallel sessions. The organisers wish this conference to be accessible to both French and English speakers, researchers and general public. As a result, a team of interpreters will be present thus allowing presentations to be given in either language. Headsets will allow the audience to listen to presentations in French or English.

Further details including registration, venue and accommodation to be communicated later.

For more details on Le Quesnoy itself please contact