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Gail Romano

Position title:
Associate Curator, History
Human History
Contact Gail

About Gail

In my curatorial role I work with the Museum's huge collection of objects related to New Zealand's war and social histories. My particular interests include First World War experiences in the Pacific, Gallipoli, and Sinai-Palestine, the Vietnam War and New Zealand's role in more recent conflicts. With a background in economics I am also strongly interested in economic aspects of New Zealand's war experience and in Auckland's economic development.

Research interests and projects

Currently I am engaged in two material culture projects. The first is a consideration of the greatcoat as a functional, emblematic and economic object that speaks of many aspects of war experience. The second is an exploration of the medal as a military object with social significance.

Explore the collection

Read articles by Gail.


William Sanders, New Zealand's only naval VC

Takapuna boy Lieutenant-Commander William Sanders is New Zealand's only naval recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest British award bestowed for valour. On the centenary of his death, Associate History Curator Gail Romano reflects upon the local Auckland recognition of his actions.

New Zealanders in Russia during the Revolution

At the time of the revolution Nursing Sister Ethel M. Strachan, and her friend and colleague Sister Sybil Kelly, were among the staff of the Anglo-Russian Hospital in Petrograd (St Petersburg), Russia.

Christmas 1916

There were upbeat reports, Christmas care packages sent, and festivities at home - yet little in the way of real relief on the fronts.

The Battle of Rafah

On 9 January 1917, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles participated in the final battle of the Sinai Campaign on the borders of Palestine - an event which changed the Middle East in ways which continue to resound today.

'"Dear Mother this war is a buggar"'

When Private Donald Melville Wood Brown wrote home in June 1916, quoting a fellow soldier, he had changed his mind about soldiering. Sadly, his war ended when he was killed in action three months later on the Somme.

A rugby legacy: The Originals and the Invincibles

It's no secret that rugby has loomed large in New Zealand's national imagination for over a century. In 1924 the NZ Truth newspaper extolled the way the sport commanded the country's interest: "Rugby suits the athletic genius of New Zealand".

The Battle of Jutland

The reality of the sea as a First World War battleground is often overlooked. Yet, controlling shorelines and shipping lanes was as critical as achieving success on land.

A wedding in the North African desert

The wartime wedding of Captain Thomas Blake and Connie Deane captured imaginations when it was reported in newspapers in late 1915. The ceremony took place at Zeitoun Camp, near Cairo, in full military style.

New Zealand troops in Sāmoa

After Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, New Zealand sent an Expeditionary Force Advance Party to capture the German territory of Sāmoa and the state-of-the-art wireless tower recently erected near Apia to capture the German territory on behalf of the British Empire.


Scraps of fabric they may be, but flags can broadcast powerful messages. The Museum's collection includes flags used for a variety of purposes, each a statement waiting to be interpreted.

NZRSA: The early years of working for soldiers

Soldiers returning from war experienced a variety of difficulties including money, employment and social adjustment. In 1916 the NZRSA was formed and Māori politician Sir James Carroll referred to the "splendid work being done on behalf of the soldiers".