Get the latest press releases from the WW100 Programme Office.
Latest press release
Monumental: New Zealand’s First World War Memorials
On Anzac Day, New Zealand’s First World War memorials will be at the centre of commemorative events around the country. They are also the focus of the latest campaign from WW100, Monumental.
“New Zealanders went to monumental lengths to remember those who served and died in the First World War,” says Sarah Davies, Director of the WW100 First World War Centenary Programme.
There are more than 500 public memorials across the country and many more in schools, churches and workplaces. They were created to remember the sacrifice of the 18,000 New Zealand soldiers and nurses who lost their lives, and the many tens of thousands more who served.
“Anzac Day is a timely opportunity to encourage people to linger a little longer at these memorials, to spend a little time getting to know the names etched upon them and discover their stories,” says Davies.
The WW100 team have put together information to help people trace these individuals’ stories, but also the stories behind the memorials themselves.
Historian Jock Phillips, a contributor to the Monumental campaign and author of To the Memory: New Zealand’s War Memorials, says these monuments offer an interesting insight into the beliefs and values of New Zealand communities in the years immediately following the war.
There was such a strong desire to find a way to remember those New Zealand soldiers and nurses who died in the war, nearly all of who were buried overseas in Europe and the Middle East.
“Family and friends wanted a sacred place nearby, a kind of surrogate tomb where they could visit and remember their loved ones,” Phillips says.
Community groups formed up and down the country to realise the memorials. The form, locations and inscriptions were all the subjects of much discussion as people considered how to adequately acknowledge such a monumental loss.
“When you start looking at the memorials closely, they become fascinating. Almost all of them have something distinctive, it might be the inscription, it might be the way they were sculpted,” says Phillips.
All but one of New Zealand’s First World War memorials were the result of mammoth community fundraising efforts. People gave generously despite the hard times.
“This is arguably the largest act of cultural patronage that this society has ever seen. There has never been so many public works of art as in the memorials after the First World War,” Phillips says.
For more information and to arrange interviews contact
Hannah Leahy, Senior Communications Advisor, WW100 Programme Office
Phone: 04 499 4229 (ext 630) or 027 628 4815
Notes to Editors:
- A selection of high-resolution media images are available for download at https://ww100.govt.nz/publicity-images
- People can find out more about the soldiers and nurses listed on the nation’s many memorials using Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Online Cenotaph.
First World War memorials take many forms:
- There are trees planted in honour of old boys and girls at schools in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington.
- Many towns have obelisks, statues, arches, gates or stained glass windows.
- In a few places natural features were adopted such as Lion Rock in Piha.
- There are a few useful memorials. Such as Hastings which has a memorial hospital, Auckland a memorial Museum and Kaiparoro a bridge. Useful memorials were not as common as they were following the Second World War where most memorials took the form of halls or sports grounds.
- The first memorials were dedicated within three months of the landing at Gallipoli in 1915. The most recent was in the Manukau memorial gardens in 2010.
- The New Zealand Memorials Register at NZHistory.govt.nz includes a list of over 900 First World War memorials. Most, but not all, have photographs. There are still gaps in the records and the NZHistory team welcome contributions from the public. Details are here: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/about-the-memorials-register
- The public are also encouraged to share stories about their local First World War memorial on social media using the hashtags #MonumentalNZ and #WW100.
- The resources created for the Monumental campaign include contributions from:
- Jock Phillips, former Chief Historian of New Zealand and General Editor of Te Ara, the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. He is the author of the 2016 book To the Memory: New Zealand’s War Memorials.
- Steve Watters, Acting Chief Historian and educator, Ministry for Culture and Heritage
- Ashleigh Mackenzie-White, Educator at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park
Previous press releases
- National ceremony to mark the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba (27 October 2017)
- National commemorative programme to remember Passchendaele (14 September 2017)
- Celebrating Compassion – Remembering New Zealand's support for Belgium (1 August 2017)
- Valuable insights into the First World War showcased at Pukeahu (13 September 2016)
- Winners announced for the #MyAnzacDay photo competition (12 May 2016)
- Kiwi personalities to judge #MyAnzacDay photo competition (17 April 2016)
- Launch of #MyAnzacDay photo competition (11 April 2016)
- First World War commemorations focus on Western Front in 2016 (27 January 2016)
- A second Christmas (18 December 2015)
- National ceremony to mark the centenary of the Battle for Chunuk Bair (5 August 2015)
- Chunuk Bair centenary marked at Pukeahu on 8 August (1 July 2015)
- WW100 marks the centenary of the Gallipoli landings (2 April 2015)
- WW100 Toolkit for groups (7 November 2014)
- WW100 Director Appointed (23 October 2014)
- WW100 commemorative pin available for purchase from 24 October 2014 (17 October 2014)
- Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails Interpretive Sign Unveiled (17 October 2014)
- New Zealand Centenary of Departure of Troops (15 October 2014)
- Marking the Centenary of New Zealand's Occupation of Samoa (29 August 2014)
- New Zealand Marks the Centenary of the Occupation of Samoa (25 August 2014)
- Marking the announcement of War, First World War (4 August 2014)
- New Zealand first to mark First World War centenary (29 July 2014)
- WW100 First World War Centenary Programme announced (28 July 2014)
- Youth Representatives Depart for Paris (7 July 2014)
- Four young New Zealanders chosen for Bastille Day commemorations (3 June 2014)
- Calling young New Zealanders qui parlent Français (1 May 2014)
- Gallipoli ballot special passes allocated (24 April 2014)
- Third round of WW100 lottery grants announced (17 April 2014)
- Results of the Gallipoli 2015 ballot announced (31 March 2014)
- History of New Zealand’s involvement in First World War launched (11 November 2013)
- Second round of WW100 lottery grants announced (6 November 2013)
- Anzac Day at Gallipoli 2015 - ballot dates confirmed (31 October 2013)
- The White Ships – peaceful sailing in the First World War (8 October 2013)
- Military commemoration dates announced (19 September 2013)
- National War Memorial Park on target (29 May 2013)
- Principles of Gallipoli 2015 ballot announced (13 May 2013)
- First World War Centenary projects funded (24 April 2013)
- New Zealand understanding of WW1 – a benchmark survey (9 April 2013)
- Life, Love and War 100 Years Ago Today (9 April 2013)
- Ballot numbers for Gallipoli 2015 confirmed (12 February 2013)
- Australian Memorial design unveiled (11 February 2013)
- First sod turned for National War Memorial Park (29 October 2012)
- Work starts on National War Memorial Park (28 September 2012)
- Public asked for views on Gallipoli 2015 ballot (26 September 2012)
- Dynamic hub for WW100 commemorations (19 September 2012)
- National War Memorial Park Bill Passes First Reading (31 August 2012)
- Trusted New Zealanders appointed to WW100 Centenary Panel (16 August 2012)
- New National War Memorial Park to be ready for Anzac centenary (7 August 2012)
- Two milestones for WW100 commemorations (17 July 2012)
- Government announces First World War Centenary plans (31 August 2011)