National War Memorial
The National War Memorial commemorates all New Zealanders who died in the South African War, First World War, Second World War, post-war conflicts and peacekeeping operations. It also honours all men and women who served New Zealand in those wars and conflicts.
The National War Memorial is made up of two buildings from two different eras – the National War Memorial Carillon (1932) and the Hall of Memories (1964) – and, in front of them, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (2004).
New Zealand in mourning
More than 18,000 New Zealand soldiers died in the First World War, and most were buried in foreign lands. This was a huge number of losses for a small country, and the families and friends of those who died had no graves at which to grieve. New Zealanders’ desire to remember their dead in their own communities led to more than 500 local war memorials being erected around the country. These memorials allowed grieving parents, lovers, siblings and friends to contemplate their loss, and returned soldiers to honour their mates.
A national memorial
In 1919 the New Zealand government approved that £100,000 be set aside for the building of a national memorial. It was to be built in a position where it would ‘be visible from any part of the city and from ships entering the harbour’.
In his Budget speech, Minister of Finance James Allen said: ’we can and ought to do something to perpetuate the memory of the men and women who gave their lives for the benefit of those of us who remain to share in the blessings to be enjoyed from what we hope may prove to be a lasting peace.’
The National War Memorial Carillon was opened by Governor-General Lord Bledisloe on Anzac Day, 25 April 1932, in front of an audience of more than 50,000. Although the Hall of Memories underneath the carillon tower was part of the original design, it wasn’t completed until 1964.
On Armistice Day, 11 November 2004, New Zealand’s Unknown Warrior was interred in front of the carillon after being brought home from Longueval, in northern France, where he had died during the First World War.
On Anzac Day in 2015 Pukeahu National War Memorial Park will be opened. It is the government’s key project to acknowledge the centenary of the First World War.