My Top 6 New Zealand History Books

My Top 10 NZ History pin 1

I recently went on a hunt for the best New Zealand history books I could find, as so many I’ve come across just do not stir up an excitement to learn about our nation’s history. So here are a handful of elementary/primary age titles that we have enjoyed recently.

Taketakerau : The Millennium Tree – Marnie Anstis

TaketakerauFinally, here is a New Zealand history book that brings alive our story in a way that is memorable and moving. This beautifully created book tells of two narrations and timelines alongside one another: one of a 2000 year old tree woven together with the story of our nation’s history, and the other giving a broad overview of world history. By far the best New Zealand history book we’ve come across.

Le Quesnoy – Glyn Harper

Le Quesnoy

Le Quesnoy is a town in northern France that was occupied during World War II by the Germans.  After 4 years, New Zealand soldiers liberated the town without a single loss of civilian life.  The story is told through the eyes of a child. 

Tarore and Her Book – Joy Cowley


The true story of a Maori girl named Tarore who was tragically killed, and the subsequent aftermath of her death on the spreading of the gospel in New Zealand.  A powerful story of how the Maori people heard the gospel through one copy of the gospel of Luke, and how they become evangelists to their own people.

Taratoa and the Code of Conduct – Debbie McCauley


During the Land Wars of the 1860s in New Zealand, Henare Taratoa wrote a Code of Conduct before the Battle of Gate Pa at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864). This beautifully written bilingual book records the extraordinary story of compassion by Maori on the battlefield towards the defeated British.

Gallipoli – Kerry Greenwood and Annie White


A story of two friends, Bluey and Dusty, who fought together at Gallipoli after landing on the beach on 25 April 1915. The story recounts this part of the Great War with a moving narrative that includes historical references and events that paints a realistic introduction to war for elementary-aged children.

Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story – Philippa Werry

Anzac Day

A non-fiction book on Gallipoli, on the history and meaning behind Anzac Day. The Four Chapters cover the Gallipoli Campaign, New Zealand at War, Remembering our War Dead, and Anzac Day, plus websites, further reading, and things to do.

So those are the best I’ve found so far – let me know if you’ve come across any treasures in your history hunting as well.


“A new dictionary will need to be compiled after the Great War.
For new words are among the things that have been born of this war. And the greatest of them all is Anzac.”

– Sydney Morning Herald 26 April 1918

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