When the National War Memorial was built in 1932, its tall carillon tower made it highly visible from most areas of the capital. At that time there was a proposal to create a boulevard to link the memorial to Courtenay Place. This never eventuated and, while still highly visible, the memorial became isolated in a semi-industrial zone as the city has grown up around it.
In 2005 the government acquired land on Buckle Street, across the road from the National War Memorial, to create a New Zealand Memorial Park. This park was to join the National War Memorial as a major focal point for New Zealanders to commemorate the sacrifice of those who served during times of war.
On 7 August 2012 the government announced the plan for Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. This included putting Buckle Street underground in order to create a unified national memorial precinct, to improve the setting of the National War Memorial, make additional space for significant days of remembrance and strengthen the heritage value of the entire area.
Plans for the park
These clips show animations of the plans for the park, including architectural illustrations courtesy of Stantiall Studio. These videos, created in November 2013, feature sound excerpts performed by National Carillonist Timothy Hurd.
Constructing the park
The Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was created between 2013 and 2015. These clips show some of the stages of construction
The above time-lapse clip shows progress over the months of February to April 2013.
Trench open day
An estimated 4000 Wellingtonians enjoyed a rare opportunity to walk through the excavated Memorial Park underpass trench before the third phase of the project began - the building of the tunnel floor, walls and roof.
The park takes shape
This video, created by the Massey University College of Creative Arts, uses photos, time-lapse, video and audio to mark the first year of the memorial park project.
Moving the Home of Compassion Crèche
This video, from August 2014, shows time-lapse footage of the Home of Compassion Crèche being relocated in three phases, using hydraulic lifting and pulling systems.
Opening of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park
In keeping with tikanga Māori, a pre-dawn blessing jointly organised by the Wellington Tenths Trust and Palmerston North Māori Reserve Trust in partnership with the Ministry, was held on 25 March 2015. The whakawatea saw the tapu lifted and the park blessed so people could walk through.
Ko te Takiwā Maharatanga Pakanga o te Motu Pukeahu te wāhi o te motu tika mō ngā tāngata o Aotearoa kia maumahara, kia whakaaro mō te wheako o Aotearoa i roto i te pakanga, i te kauhanga riri me te hohou i te rongo, ā, kua pēhea te wheako e auaha i ō tātou whakaaro rangatira, i tō tātou tuakiri ā-motu.
Pukeahu National War Memorial Park officially opened on 18 April 2015. The opening ceremony was attended by several thousand people with thousands more visiting the Park during the day.
In the week 18-24 April 2015, the Wellington City Council staged World War One Remembered: A Light and Sound Show with an estimated 40-50,000 attending throughout the week.
The Wellington City Street Parade started at Parliament and finishing at Pukeahu on Friday 24 April was watched by a crowd of 50-60,000.
The events throughout Anzac Week culminated in the Dawn Ceremony at Pukeahu on Anzac Day. Attendance well exceeded expectations with an estimated 50,000 present in the Park and surrounding streets. This was made all the more significant by the high numbers attending across the Wellington region and across New Zealand. Following the Dawn ceremony 7000 people enjoyed a cup of tea and an Anzac biscuit in the tunnel.
During Anzac day there were other events at the Park, including the National Anzac Day Commemoration and the spectacular and poignant Ceremony of Beat Retreat, all of which were well attended.
Since Anzac Day 22,000 people have visited the National War Memorial – that’s 22,000 in one month – compared with average visitors of 15,000 a year. Earthquake strengthening was recently completed on the National War Memorial Hall of Memories. Schools, tourist groups, visitors and passers-by are taking the opportunity to remember and reflect and learn about New Zealand’s role in military conflicts while enjoying the surroundings of the Park.
The Australian Memorial opened just prior to Anzac Day is a striking feature of the Park and attracts many visitors. The stunning Great War Exhibition – a joint venture between the government and Sir Peter Jackson, located in the Dominion Museum Building is attracting many visitors on a daily basis and complements the moving Gallipoli Exhibition at Te Papa.
Visit our image gallery page for images from recent ceremonies.