Today Papanui is a suburb of the New Zealand city of Christchurch. In 1914, it was on the rural fringe of the city, and was linked to nearby districts of Harewood, Styx, Belfast and Coutts Island. Papanui was an area that was partly suburban, linked to the centre of Christchurch by a tram line that ran down Papanui Road, but linked closely to other neighbouring districts that were mostly rural. The population of the whole district was about 5000 people. Most of them were employed in semi-skilled or labouring jobs on local farms, orchards or in industries based on farming, such as the meat works or wool scour at Belfast. In many ways, this community was typical of the ones from which New Zealand soldiers came. Over 500 men from this district marched away to serve in World War I. Ninety-six did not return. This is their story.
This story has been complied by researching the personal military records of the individual soldiers, combined with extensive research from newspapers of the time, personal family accounts and other primary records relating to these men or the communities from which they came. The historical context of their wartime service has derived from reading extensively from published personal accounts of wartime experiences as well as the work of historians who have begun to re-examine the way in which the war was fought.