Plaque to commemorate NZ Wars unveiled at Parliament
12 September 2019
Plaque to commemorate New Zealand Wars unveiled at Parliament
This morning a plaque to commemorate the New Zealand Wars was unveiled in Parliament’s debating chamber.
The plaque was unveiled by the Prime Minister and Speaker of the House as part of a special ceremony involving iwi from around the country, members of Parliament and representatives from key government agencies.
The plaque takes its place in the centre of the chamber, among other plaques and wreaths which commemorate those who served New Zealand in significant conflicts around the world. In this case acknowledging Māori and Pakeha who fought on both sides of the conflicts in the nineteenth century.
Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard said, “The wars of the mid-nineteenth century profoundly shaped our nation and its people, perhaps more than any other conflict. The impacts were immense and felt deeply across the country. It is important that these events in our history are acknowledged, including here at Parliament, and that those who fought, and especially those who fell, are remembered.
Many New Zealanders will have ancestors who were involved in the Wars. Our Parliament’s debating chamber has long acknowledged those who served overseas, it is only right that we show the same respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice on our own shores.”
Parliament’s Tumu Whakarae, Kura Moeahu, says the plaque serves, “As a memorial of those who were lost to the war of these lands of Aotearoa, however also as a reminder for the desire to unify and heal both the land and people.”
The installation of a plaque to commemorate the New Zealand Wars had been suggested at various times over the years. In 2018, member of Parliament, Gareth Hughes, wrote to the Speaker of the House requesting that the New Zealand Wars be acknowledged in the Chamber. The Speaker, after consultation with all parties, approved this request.
Hughes says, “It’s great that Parliament’s taking this small but symbolic step as part of Rā Maumahara. It’s really important that we teach our history, remember it and commemorate it.”
Unveiling the plaque alongside the Prime Minister and Speaker of the House was Leah Bell. In 2015, as a high school student, Bell, along with Waimarama Anderson, presented Parliament with a petition calling for a national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars. The petition had gathered over 12,000 signatures and led to the first national commemoration day, Rā Maumahara, in 2017.
About the plaques
It is believed that the House of Representatives chamber was dedicated as a memorial to the First World War. There are twelve carved circular wreaths around the balcony, bearing the names of places at which significant battles were fought by New Zealand troops in World War I.
There are also eighteen carved plaques (also known as “ferns”) on the wall panels around the Chamber. These were added in 1961 and include the South Africa (Boer) War, World War II and later war service by New Zealand troops.