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Tomb of the Unknown Warrior

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior

At Parliament today Prime Minister Helen Clark unveiled the winning design for the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The Tomb will be located at the National War Memorial in Wellington. The official dedication of the Tomb will take place on 11 November, Armistice Day.

The winning design is by well-known New Zealand sculptor, Robert Jahnke.

Commenting on his design, Mr Jahnke said, “The Tomb establishes a complementary relationship with the Carillon tower. It has been conceived as a directional pointer towards the tower. It’s simple yet monumental.”

“I’ve deliberately used stone as a medium to reference Aotearoa New Zealand, and territories beyond our country. South Island pounamu acknowledges New Zealand as the homeland of the Unknown Warrior, while imported black granite acknowledges that the Unknown Warrior will be returning from overseas.”

National President of the Royal New Zealand Returned Services’ Association, David Cox said he was delighted with the proposed design. “It will be a distinctive and dignified addition to the existing war memorial. Robert Jahnke is to be congratulated. He has produced a design that is in complete harmony and sympathy with the existing memorial. It symbolises the terrible suffering inflicted on this country in its struggles to preserve freedom, justice and the democratic way of life.”

Work on construction of the site for the Tomb is scheduled to begin next month. The Studio of Pacific Architecture will develop the forecourt of the National War Memorial.

The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior Project is co-ordinated by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Other government departments involved are: New Zealand Defence Force, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, Department of Internal Affairs, Te Puni Kokiri/Ministry of Maori Development, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is supported by the National War Memorial Advisory Council, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Royal New Zealand Returned Services’ Association, Te Ati Awa (represented by the Wellington Tenths Trust), and the Wellington City Council.

An image of the design for the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior can be obtained from the website: www.mch.govt.nz


13 May 2003 Blessing Ceremony at the National War Memorial. Construction work will begin on the Tomb site.

2 November 2003 Ceremony in France to mark the Commonwealth War Graves Commission returning the Unknown Warrior into the care of a New Zealand delegation.

7 November 2003 Unknown Warrior arrives in New Zealand.

8-10 November 2003 Unknown Warrior lies in State at Parliament.

11 November 2003 State Funeral at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul. Funeral procession from Cathedral to the National War Memorial. Interment ceremony at National War Memorial.

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