Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Landmark war memorial up for registration

Thursday April 17


Landmark war memorial up for registration

The historic value of the earliest known built World War I monument erected in New Zealand is in being assessed by the country’s lead heritage agency.

Heritage New Zealand (formerly the NZ Historic Places Trust) has proposed the First World War Memorial Beacon on Auckland’s waterfront for registration as a Category 2 historic place.

“In light of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War later this year, the preparation of a registration proposal for the beacon is very timely,” says Heritage New Zealand’s Registration Adviser, Martin Jones.

“It also ties in strongly with this year’s theme of Heritage and Commemoration as part of the International Day for Monuments and Sites on April 18 – a global celebration of heritage organised by ICOMOS [the International Council on Monuments and Sites].”

The beacon memorial is unusual in that it was created at the same time New Zealand troops were fighting in Gallipoli – indeed the red beacon that once stood at the top of the monument was lit for the first time the same week troops were being evacuated off the Dardanelles in December 1915.

The memorial is also rare in that it was erected by an employer – the Auckland Harbour Board – and commemorates not only those who were killed during the war, but all Harbour Board employees who served. As such it is one of very few occupational monuments erected during the First World War.

“As a major port, Auckland had close trade ties with other parts of the British Empire – particularly after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, when British cargo was increasingly shipped directly to the city,” says Martin.

“When war broke out, the Auckland Harbour Board promptly donated a considerable sum of money to the Auckland Patriotic Fund. It was also heavily involved in preparations for the conflict providing storage space for cargo on Queen’s Wharf and organising the departure of the troops from the Auckland wharves.”

In September 1914, for example, 2000 troops cheered by large crowds marched through the city to the wharves to board the troop ships.

The port itself was a centre of activity throughout the war years, and from 1917 the wharves were put under military control and manned with armed guards. An examination anchorage off North Head was established, which monitored vessels coming and going from the port.

From late 1915, the beacon memorial was a central part of the waterfront.

“The beacon was one of comparatively few World War I memorials in New Zealand that served a functional purpose,” says Martin.

Originally standing 5.8 metres high with a clear view to the harbour, the monument consisted of steps, a stone obelisk surmounted by decorative ironwork and an electric lamp illuminating a red beacon at the top which served as a navigation aid.

“A newspaper account of the day describes how launches coming into the landings were required to sight the beacon and then align their craft with a white diamond fixed to the Sailor’s Home behind the beacon before ‘running in’,” says Martin.

“The memorial was basically a functioning navigation marker and as such is believed to be unique in New Zealand, and one of only a few built internationally.”

Functionality apart, the symbolism of the light also suggested a beacon of hope, a shining example and safe return home.

As reclamation along the waterfront took place after the war, the beacon became increasingly distant from the sea. Sometime between 1968 and 1973 the memorial was taken from its original site – near where the Copthorne Hotel is today – when the hotel and the Downtown car park were constructed.

Parts of the dismantled memorial were found in Shed 51 on Bledisloe Wharf in 1999 – though the iron railing, orb and wreaths were never recovered. An anonymous Jewish German benefactor who had immigrated to New Zealand prior to the Second World War offered to fund the restoration and reinstallation of the memorial beacon.

In early 2000 the monument was restored with the plaques and new wreaths attached to the Coromandel granite obelisk, and a new stone ball placed on top of the obelisk to replace the original ironwork and lamp.

Today, the monument stands near the entrance of the Viaduct Basin, bearing the names of Harbour Board employees who served overseas, as well as a list of theatres of war and a plaque commemorating the signing of the Versailles peace treaty in 1919.

People are welcome to make submissions on the proposal to register the memorial beacon – contact mjones@heritage.org.nz. Submissions are due by 4pm on May 5.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Gordon Campbell: On John Key’s Trip To Iraq

In the embedded press coverage on this trip, the absence so far of any evaluation of the wider context of what New Zealand thinks it is doing at Camp Taji has been striking. More>>


Labour: Parata Puts Brakes On Charter School Appraisal

“When the Ministry of Education recommended they compare the achievements of children at charter schools to those of their counterparts at state schools, the documents show Hekia Parata specifically prohibited them from doing so." More>>


Bad Day For Universities: Gun, Bomb Threats On Three Campuses

Dunedin Police are continuing their investigation into the threat made against the University of Otago. Staff are following a number of lines of inquiry, and police are working to verify the authenticity and source of the post. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Deal Reached In Atlanta

Yes, the TPP has helped to knock a few points off the tariffs facing our exporters. Yet some of those alleged dollar gains may well have been made regardless over time – and without the negative baggage of the concessions in the non-trade areas (intellectual property, copyright extensions, investor-state dispute mechanisms etc) that the TPP deal also brings in its wake. More>> (Cartoon by Dave Wolland)

Public Summaries:


Wellington.Scoop: Serco – First The Prisons, And Now It Wants To Run The Trains

As the government continues its inquiry into Serco’s discredited administration of Mt Eden prison in Auckland, here in Wellington there’s further scrutiny of the British outsourcing company – because it’s competing to take over the running of our commuter trains. More>>


Pre-Signing: Gordon Campbell On The TPP Countdown

To date, the Key government has been unwilling to share any information about this TPP deal until it is too late for outraged public opinion to affect the outcome... the disclosure process is likely to consist of a similarly skewed and careful exercise in spin. More>>


Australia Deportations: English Relaxed On Immigration Centre Conditions

Labour's Annette King: “There have been numerous reports from inside these detention centres on just how bad conditions are... If they were being held in any other foreign jail, I imagine Mr English would be somewhat concerned. More>>


Schools: Achievement-Based Funding Would Be A Disaster

The Education Minister’s speech to the PPTA Conference raising the spectre of achievement data driving a new funding system would be disastrous, says NZEI Te Riu Roa. More>>

  • Video Out-Link - PPTA Annual Conference 2015 on Livestream (Q+A dicussion suggests funding would be directed to less successful schools.)

  • ALSO:

    ECE Report:

    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news