Technical details of project

The Archive

The archive forms the core of the project. It will be a complete record of all of the graves and primary memorials of New Zealand's war dead. We realise that there are some locations that, at this time, are difficult to access, notably the Basra memorial in Iraq, but we feel sure that, in the near future, in some form, access will be possible.

As well as the photographing of “primary memorials”, extensive photography of the cemeteries and their surrounds, using advanced techniques which were unavailable a few years ago, will add detail and depth to the records.

In addition, the archive should contain images of memorials to New Zealand forces, such as the New Zealand Memorial at Le Quesnoy – and while it has been photographed before, we believe that a professional image is needed for this project.

The final content of the archive will be made in consultation with professional historians. It is our intent to form a board of studies to provide guidance and direction to the project.

We have extensive experience in database design and configuration and realise the importance of ensuring the transportability of the data we collect, both for integration with other databases, and any other future use. Images in the database will be of consistent size (4k pixel long side), and of consistent colour and quality.

Agreement has been reached with the Auckland War Memorial Museum to accept the archive and host the website on its completion, ensuring the safe-keeping of the material for use by future generations of New Zealanders. Despite having “Auckland” in its name, it is the sole war memorial museum in New Zealand designated as such, and has a national focus on military history, hosting the “Cenotaph” database of all New Zealand’s service personnel, with which we are pleased to associate.

The Website

The creation of this website will allow free public access to the archive, albeit using lower resolution images, and will allow searching for servicemen and cemeteries using very simple search criteria.

The website will eventually extend the functionality of the collected images, adding “virtual tours” of some of the cemeteries, panoramic images and in some instances, interactive cemetery plans and web movies of suitable subjects, such as the daily Menin Gate ceremony.

The website will also allow special interest groups to contribute. A good example is the Medical History Society, which has shown considerable interest in the project, and would supply addition information on the medical staff/doctors amongst the servicemen. Search criteria may be extended to permit searching for such categories as, New Zealanders that served with British forces (seconded to the RAF etc), Maori, Regiments, service branches and specialties (e.g. Artillery), home towns, Post Office employees…… The list is only limited by imagination, time and funding.

In addition, it is possible to provide links to a higher resolution .jpeg image of individual headstones and memorials which could be downloaded and printed.

The project principals are working with other organisations to ensure compatibility of data with any other initiatives and to avoid duplication of effort.

Methodology (Photography)

As the images are required to be archived in a digital form, they originate digitally. We have established that a minimum of a 12 megapixels sensor is required to satisfy our quality standards, which is, at least, the same quality as film. Any film used, for some special photography, will be scanned at the same resolution.

All images originate in the camera’s native RAW format (i.e. without in–camera processing) and are stored as a TIFF (uncompressed) format, which is universally accepted for archiving. There are therefore two “high-quality” versions of each picture, plus the smaller JPEG images required for the website.

Images are 4000 pixels, long side, except for the individual images for panoramas and “virtual cemetery” use.

Methodology (Logistics)

The Trust operates the project by contracting the most suitable persons or companies to complete the various tasks to meet our goals.

The contracts are:

  1. Provision of images
  2. Post-production of images
  3. Database design and maintenance
  4. Web site, Virtual cemetery and Graphic Design
  5. Historical and Social Research
  6. Project Management
Methodology (Timetable)

The project which began as an idea in 2004 and was under way in 2006 is scheduled to finish the principal photography in 2014/2015.

The website will continue to  grow incrementally as the images are collected, rather than at the completion of the project, and will contain updates/news on the project as it proceeds. The length of the project and the scheduling of the phases have always been dependent on funding.

New Zealanders who are casualties of war or peace-keeping operations are buried in 79 countries. By early 2012, more than 13,000 photogaphs had been obtained from 32 countries and more than 18,816 were still be collected from 47 countries. More than 15,000 of the graves and memorials to  be photographed are located in Belgium, France and on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.