War's impact on city dwellers mapped out

William McKee, exhibition developer at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, stands beside a street map which he helped develop showing the former addresses of Dunedin casualties in World War 1. Photo by Peter McIntoshThe stark reality of World War 1's impact on Dunedin families is made clear in a city street map marked with hundreds of crosses, at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.

About 1900 combatants from the present Greater Dunedin area were killed during that war and several thousand others were badly injured.

The map is a striking part of a new exhibition, ''Dunedin's Great War'', which opens at the museum today.

Monday is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1, on August 4, 1914.

The exhibition provides a survey of Dunedin and its people during the war, and runs until May 3.

Museum exhibitions developer William McKee yesterday discussed a large street map of central Dunedin, based on 1917 street names, which he had developed, showing the home addresses of many of the city's Great War casualties.

''It really shows that the whole city suffered,'' he said.

Colour-coded crosses show which years casualties - deaths and significant injuries - occurred, with many in 1914, the first year, and many also in 1918, the final year.

Dunedin historian and museum curator Sean Brosnahan said depicting the experiences of Dunedin people during the war was a ''solemn duty'', which museum staff took very seriously.

The map developed by Mr McKee showed not only that people of all walks of life and in every part of the city had been affected by the war, but also showed other signs of social change between 1917 and now.

There had recently been a trend towards more people living in central city apartments, but many people, including single men, also lived in the city centre, including near the Octagon, before World War 1, including in hotels and boarding houses, he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

Good balance

Well done again Toitu. This is a difficult subject, and it appears the exhibition staff have got the balance between commemorating and glorifying right.

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