The artistic merit of this form of memorial is judged largely by the quality of the sculpture; as an art form it is not popular in the contemporary world which has discarded “naturalism” in favour of abstract and symbolic solutions. A fine example of the contemporary or abstract approach is the Tasman Memorial at Whakatene, near Takaka. Designed by E. Plishke, it consists, primarily, of a tall, vertical marble shaft and a horizontal inscription slab adjacent to its base. The vertical element captures the vitality inherent in its form, and the horizontal slab the repose appropriate for an inscription. Yet it is essentially an abstract composition relying upon the skilful use of primary elements which, because of their simplicity, add greatly to its beauty.
The Massey memorial tomb at Point Halswell, near Wellington, by Gummer and Ford, with its fine medallions carved by F. A. Shurrock, may also be considered an abstract composition because it, too, uses simple vertical and horizontal elements to frame effectively the memorial to a Prime Minister of New Zealand. Peter Fraser's tomb in Karori Cemetery, Wellington, designed by Barry Marshall, is a polished granite slab under a concrete canopy which is also effective because of its simplicity; but perhaps the simplest of all memorials is the great boulder in Queenstown's gardens inscribed with portions of Captain Scott's last message.