18 Mar 2015

'Spine-tingling' app for Gallipoli pilgrims

4:51 pm on 18 March 2015

New Zealanders making the pilgrimage to Turkey to remember their countrymen who died at Gallipoli are being given a tool to make their journey easier.

A screenshot of the Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli application.

A screenshot of the Ngā Tapuwae Gallipoli application. Photo: SUPPLIED / WW100 Programme Office

The First World War Centenary Programme released its Gallipoli app today.

Two years in development, the Nga Tapuwae - New Zealand First World War Trails app is designed to help New Zealanders plan their trips to Gallipoli and find sites significant to New Zealand.

More on WWI and Gallipoli

Project manager Denise Stephens said tours of Gallipoli were often aimed at Australians and Britons, and New Zealand sites were an afterthought.

"We're trying to point out all the New Zealand things that you could and should go and see," Ms Stephens said.

Trails of national significance marked for New Zealanders include Anzac Cove, where the soldiers landed, a walk into what was no-man's land, and Chunuk Bair, a site the Anzacs briefly held.

One of the issues Ms Stephens' team unearthed in the concept stage was that people were often not making the best choices to get the most out of their time visiting Gallipoli.

Some take a day trip from Istanbul, a five hour drive, and get only a couple of hours at the site. "It's a very long day and they don't actually get to see a lot of Gallipoli."

The battle map for Chunuk Bair.

The battle map for Chunuk Bair. Photo: SUPPLIED / WW100 Programme Office

For the many people who visit the war site because they had a relative who died there, the app has links that could provide information about where soldiers are are buried.

There are audio commentaries from New Zealand historian Chris Pugsley and Turkish historian Kenan Çelik, as well as narration from Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry.

Some of the audio is of veterans of the Gallipoli campaign, recorded in the 1960s and 1970s. "That's quite spine-tingling in parts," said Ms Stephens

Actors have been used to voice excerpts from letters and diaries of soldiers to give people an understanding of the value of where they are standing.

Ms Stephens said the actors' recordings brought a special touch. "You feel like the actors [who] play the part have really got into the skin of the people there and it's amazing when you hear it."

The app comes with details not just about the battlefields but about the type of weapons used, including how the very basic bullet worked.

The app comes with a potted history of the Gallipoli Campaign.

"People have heard of Gallipoli, but they don't necessarily know the history. They don't perhaps understand why New Zealand was there, what we were doing there.

"We've tried to explain where Gallipoli fits in to the First World War."

The team expect to release a WWI Western Front app this year.

Explore the app further here.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs