The New Zealand Memorial in London's Hyde Park Corner commemorates the enduring bonds between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and our shared sacrifice during times of war. It is a symbol both of our common heritage and of New Zealand's distinct identity.
Designed by architect John Hardwick-Smith and sculptor Paul Dibble the memorial consists of 16 cross-shaped vertical bronze 'standards' set out in formation on a grassy slope. Each standard is adorned with text, patterns and small sculptures. "Through the words and images, any New Zealander visiting the memorial will recognise home, and British people may learn something of the relationship between our two countries," explains Paul Dibble.
The memorial was dedicated on 11 November 2006 in the presence of the Royal Family and is expected to become a particular focus for Anzac Day commemorations in London each year.
The project was managed by the Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Defence Force, and Veterans' Affairs New Zealand. In London, it was carried out in cooperation with English Heritage and the Westminster City Council.
Called 'Southern Stand', the memorial consists of 16 bronze sculptures of varying heights set out in formation across a grassy slope in Hyde Park Corner. The design team explains that the memorial "marks a field for the commemoration and celebration of New Zealand and Britain's war-time and peace-time relationship".
Paul Dibble's wife and assistant Fran Dibble explains that the individual 'standards' are "made to stand in semi-grid formation calling to mind soldiers in procession, … Pouwhenua markers around Māori ancestral sites, or Celtic remains" like standing stones. The forward-leaning angle of the standards gives them a defiant pose "reminiscent of warriors during haka, the defensive bat in cricket, and the barrel of a shouldered gun". Thus the military, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and British links of the memorial are immediately established in the placing and attitude of the sculptures.
Six standards are positioned beyond the main group and are arranged to form the shape of the Southern Cross constellation. At night, their tops are illuminated so that the crosses appear like the southern stars, indicating the compass direction south … and pointing the way home for wandering Kiwis. Each standard is formed from two intersecting plates of bronze, which are cut at a diagonal plane at the top. From afar, they appear like a series of crosses hanging in the air, with some of the atmosphere of the soldiers' mass cemeteries,' says Fran Dibble.
Dibble Art Company, Paul Dibble
Leading New Zealand sculptor Paul Dibble has specialised in bronze-casting since the early 1990s. Works from that period explored folklore icons of New Zealand – images of sheep, beer bottles, trophies, farmers and farm dogs. His focus on Kiwi icons and the role of New Zealand in the world made Dibble an ideal choice to represent Kiwi identity on an overseas memorial.
The Dibble Art Co studio employed a team of people with the diverse skills required to make bronze sculptures. The team includes Fran Dibble (Paul Dibble's wife) who has expertise in welding and ceramic shelling, and foreman Sonny Hawkins who is responsible for bronze construction and sand moulding. Local woodworker Martin Carryer helped develop the wooden patterns for the memorial standards. Research to find appropriate text was carried out by Therese Crocker.
Athfield Architects Ltd
Leading the architectural side of the team was John Hardwick-Smith, an architect and a Director of Athfield Architects Ltd. Others in the design team from Athfield Architects Ltd include architect Zac Athfield, and architectural designers Jaime Lawrence and Chris Winwood. London-based architect Jon Rennie who studied at Victoria University was employed for the project. From 1999 to 2001, Jon worked in Athfield Architects' Wellington office. In 2001 he moved to London. Jon retains an association with Athfield Architects Ltd, collaborating on projects both in London and New Zealand.