Skip to Content »

A plaza for the National War Memorial

  • August 20th, 2008

The National War Memorial  rises on the forward shoulder of Wellington’s Mt Cook. 

Elevation should give it the authority of sacred sites all over the world. We step up to them to induce deference. They should loom over those approaching, to encourage humility. And they should offer calmness and peace, a sense of sanctuary from any mundane city roar.

Our memorial should do all of that but it does not.

IMHO it fails for three reasons:

– the traffic is close behind as one goes up to the memorial. That proximity suggests irelevance to the memorial, the indifferent traffic flows past irrespective of what is happening at the memorial. The road is too close to allow traffic to be screen out and muffled.

– busy roadways around the memorial lead up to what is now Massey University. They strip out any sense of awe. Instead it seems a relic, caught in the middle of someone else’s driveways.

– the view back from the memorial is dreary. The low rise buildings running down Tory and Taranaki Streets offer nothing inspiring.

Labour has put a lot of effort into reverence to dead and retired servicepeople (despite regarding their views on what they fought for as out-dated ). So there is a plan to put a wiggle in Buckle Street, to take the traffic further away from  the memorial.

Mercifully a service station has gone in preparation for that,  But the traffic flow will now be close to an already constrained school playground, and it will still flow past without regard to anything happening before the memorial. A new road semi-circle around the memorial entrance could just increase the desolation of the area.

The site cries out for a pedestrian plaza with the road going underneath. That would create serenity and perspective that the memorial needs.

It would also be a better road. It could have gone into a trench or tunnel years ago if the "no changes" mob had not batterred the Council into our botched innercity bypass.

I am sick of my country always compromising with meagre and half baked public works. For our national war memorial, we should have a wide open space for people to gather. It should reduce the city noise to backdrop levels.

Or the memorial should be moved to sit among trees, genuinely looking down on the city. 

There is already such a site. The Grand Hall of the Massey building (the former Dominion Museum before it moved to Te Papa) has a dramatic entrance at the top of a serene hill where everything is conducive to respect.

If the road is not going to go out of sight of the memorial, then before millions are spent, we should consider shifting the 1964 memorial and the 2004 tomb of the unknown soldier to the top of the hill, so that student cars are not driving ‘above’ them.

The 1932 carillion need not be moved.



  • Jason
  • August 20th, 2008
  • 7:51 pm

Great idea to have the road going underneath. Unfortunately, if that were done I am sure your leader John Key would be screaming about it as a waste of money. National can’t have it both ways. If you want thrift and then get it, don’t then complain about it.

  • Nick C
  • August 23rd, 2008
  • 11:07 pm

What makes you think Key wouldnt be willing to pledge money to something like this?

Leave your comments:

* Required fields. Your e-mail address will not be published on this site

You can use the following HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>