25 Feb 2018

Women's War tells lesser known stories of World War I

9:01 pm on 25 February 2018

The experiences of New Zealand women during World War I are portrayed in a powerful new exhibition at the National War Memorial in Wellington.

Gallagher group of nurses 1910.

Gallagher group of nurses 1910. Photo: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-59029

Women's War uses cutting-edge audio visual technology and recreations of outfits that were worn by nurses, entertainers, workers and other women involved in the war effort on the home front.

The exhibitions manager at The Great War Exhibition, Ian Wards, said Women's War - the sixth of seven touring exhibitions - was a chance to tell the lesser-known war-time stories.

"So much of this war story has been told through the eyes and ears of men, so it is great to acknowledge, see and hear the experiences of women in the war."

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Ettie Rout with NZEF Infantrymen. Photo: Archives New Zealand, ACHU 19290 MISC30 Box 1 / 13

Women's War gives voice to their experiences, utilising cutting-edge audio-visual technology and recreations of outfits that were worn by six types of women-patriotic, supportive family, nurses, entertainers, independent workers and pioneers.

Fiona Baverstock, an Australian private collector of textiles and vintage clothing, who created the costumes, said women brought "a can-do" practicality to the war effort and fashion.

"Anything that restricted their ability to get things done had to go - so down went waistlines, up came hemlines and out went corsets, unnecessary layers, big hats and dainty shoes. These were extraordinary ordinary women, who achieved feats and survived devastation and privation that astonished even themselves."

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The Spinsters' Club in Wellington knitting socks for WWI soldiers. Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-030986-F

Women's War is created by Story Inc. and Dusk, and is funded by the Lottery Grants Board.

The Great War Exhibition is located in Wellington's historic Dominion Museum Building situated within the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, adjacent to the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and the National War Memorial.

Women's War runs from tomorrow until 19 April.