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What commemoration means

Commemoration means marking an important historical event on or around a meaningful anniversary. Commemoration brings people together in physical and virtual spaces to reflect on the past and its relevance to the present.

Commemoration does not need to involve a formal remembrance ceremony or a physical monument. For example, it can be sharing historical information through a website or creating artistic works that respond to an anniversary. 

Commemorations policy 

The New Zealand Government has a policy on the commemoration of historical anniversaries. The policy was introduced in 2009, updated in 2014 and refreshed in 2022.

Under this policy, a list of anniversaries to be commemorated is agreed several years in advance. This allows government involvement in commemoration events to be planned and coordinated. 

A theme based approach

From 2014 to 2022, anniversaries were categorised as Tier 1 or Tier 2. Tier 1 (major) anniversaries related to events whose impact was felt throughout the nation or changed New Zealand significantly. Tier 2 (other) anniversaries were of national significance but had less impact on New Zealand society.  

Refreshed in 2022, the New Zealand Government’s policy on the commemoration of historical anniversaries takes a theme-based approach to tell connected stories across multiple anniversaries. Themes on the commemoration calendar may include anniversaries within a single year or across multiple years.

Commemorations programme and past commemorations


Past commemorations

A list of past commemorations in New Zealand that marked the anniversary of significant events since 2014. For most entries we have provided links to more information, for example on our Te Ara and NZHistory websites.

How anniversaries are chosen 

Anniversaries on the Government’s list should be:

  • of significance to the nation as a whole
  • of events that took place in New Zealand, involved New Zealanders or that have a clear connection to New Zealand
  • a multiple of 25 years since the event in question (eg, 25th, 50th and 100th anniversaries)
  • representative of the diversity of New Zealanders’ historical experiences.

Occasionally, as with the centenary of the First World War between 2014 and 2019, dedicated funding may be available to support commemorations. However, most commemorative activity is funded from within departmental baselines.

Annual commemorations 

Some commemorations take place annually, for example:

  • Waitangi Day commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • Anzac Day commemorates New Zealanders’ involvement in war
  • Matariki marks the Māori New Year.
  •  Pukeahu National War Memorial Park which hosts a number of annual military commemorations.  

Waitangi Day and other public holidays (Te Ara)

Anzac Day

Find out about the meaning and history of Anzac Day, how you can use the word ‘Anzac’ and information about events on 25 April.


Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

As well as the National War Memorial, the park has many other memorials and is rich in local history. Access visitor information about the Park’s significant sites and memorials.

Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumhara

Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumhara is the national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars. It was observed for the first time in 2018 and usually takes place each year on 28 October.

Visit Te Puni Kōkiri’s website for more information about this commemoration and funding available to support it.

Te Pūtake o te Riri | Wars and Conflicts in New Zealand Fund (Te Puni Kōkiri)

Other commemorations

There are many important anniversaries every year, and it is not possible to include them all on the Government’s commemorations programme.

Organisations outside government may decide to mark these anniversaries. We are always happy to hear about community-led commemorations and may be able to help by publicizing these through our online channels.

New Zealanders’ views on commemoration

In 2019, we contracted Colmar Brunton to conduct a public opinion poll of New Zealanders’ views on commemoration. The survey report, New Zealanders’ views on commemorating historical events, is available in our publications library.