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Celebrating two years of citizen research with Online Cenotaph

Two Years On

Relaunched in January 2015, Online Cenotaph provides a record of individual New Zealanders’ service in international conflicts that researchers, organisations and members of the public can enrich with stories, images and documents.

Contributions from the public to Online Cenotaph have created a much richer resource, with more than 67,500 pieces of information added by members of the community so far. It has enabled many people to commemorate their loved ones and make connections with other family members and researchers alike. We have discovered that the majority of the content has been added by those with some sort of familial connection to the service person they are commemorating. 

There is also a core group of researchers who have added thousands of contributions as a result of genealogical and military research interests. On reviewing the public contributions, we discovered that we had a super-user in our midst.

Lorraine James

Over the past two years, Lorraine James has added tens of thousands of pieces of information and images to Online Cenotaph. This is an amazing achievement and we feel it is important to acknowledge her efforts and provide an insight into our most active contributor. We asked her a few questions about herself and how she became involved in genealogical and military research.

Lorraine James show jumping

Provided by Lorraine James

Lorraine was born and raised in Gisborne. She has a love of country life with interests including playing netball and horse riding, which included trekking, show jumping, dressage, and eventing. She has been involved in the administration of a number of clubs and organisations throughout the King Country, where she farmed with her husband from 1972 until the early 2000s.

She became interested in family history in 2000 after a trip taken with her mother to Hawke's Bay where they undertook research into the Haycock family. Since then, Lorraine has researched and compiled several family history publications. It wasn't until she returned to live in Gisborne, however, that she was really was able to embark on more in-depth research.

With the 2015 Anzac commemorations...I decided to research further the military history of my grandfather’s brother, Godfrey Alexander Fairlie who was killed during The First World War. While researching this, it led me to find more and more information about other members of the NZ Māori Pioneer Battalion who were killed in the war, and so it grew and I entered this information onto your website. My main aim was to enter the soldiers that left from East Coast and Gisborne with the NZ Maori Pioneer Battalion - I realise at this point I have not achieved that as yet, but will sometime in the future...

I have chosen to use [Online Cenotaph] as I have found it user friendly... and continues to be up-dated as new information comes to hand. I hope that the Online Cenotaph website continues to remain available for the far future to come so the next generation will also be able to access it and learn about their ancestors..."

Lorraine has been contacted by a number of relatives of the service person's records that she has enriched. 

I enjoy helping them find more information and let them know the websites that may help them and encourage them to add a photo of the soldier concerned if they have one and any further information about their relative if they can."

Building a valuable resource for future generations

We are so pleased that Lorraine and others like her have embraced Online Cenotaph. It is great to think that our contributors are motivating others to add content. This community support is central to Online Cenotaph's success and we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to acknowledge those who have served New Zealand in times of conflict.

‘Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua'
My past is my present is my future I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past

Help us improve Online Cenotaph

You can share your knowledge about a service person's life and help us improve Online Cenotaph by adding a brief contribution directly to that person's record page.

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