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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Memorial Buildings

The idea of dedicating a building, park, or other useful thing as a memorial is a time-honoured method of commemoration, which has become very popular in New Zealand in recent years. The design problem of a building in these circumstances is complicated by the dual function it has to perform. Although the memorial is static and permanent, the useful function is virile, which requires the building to be adaptable to the inevitable alterations, even reconstruction, necessary in the future to maintain its efficiency. The traditional solution is to adopt this form of memorial when its commemorative purpose is closely allied with its usefulness. For example, an art gallery, library, or church could be a memorial to a person, institution, or other authority whose aid has directly or indirectly contributed to its progress. In these cases the functions of the buildings are the real memorials, and later alterations or even reconstruction does not invalidate their memorial character. There are examples in nearly every town and city, but the following are cited to illustrate the wide application of the principle. The Henry William's Memorial Church at Paihia, the Coates Memorial Church at Matakohe, the George Forbes Memorial Library at Lincoln College, the children's library at Riccarton, the Elam School of Art, the Dilworth School, and Massey College.

When the memorial is of a more general nature, such as a district war memorial, the building becomes a repository for a shrine, hall of memories, or other memorial feature. It may also serve, when suitable, as a background or setting for a free-standing cenotaph or other symbolic feature.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum, by Grierson, Aimer, and Draffin, is an excellent example. The dignified monumental building of wide community interest contains a shrine and other memorial features, and its paved forecourt with its central cenotaph provides the formal setting for public ceremonies. The Dominion War Memorial in Wellington, designed by Gummer and Ford, is a carillon tower to which is being added a centennial hall of memories. It is quite independent but formally sited in front of the dignified Dominion Museum. At Wanganui, a war memorial hall has been added to an existing civic centre. It, too, has a shrine and a forecourt for public ceremonies but its special interest lies in the happy coordination of a contemporary building with those of another period, each being a significant expression of its time. The beautiful centennial memorial at Petone, by H. L. Massey, has a different approach. The building and its accessories are designed as the memorial and any useful purpose is quite subsidiary to it.

There are many other functional memorials in various parts of the country. New Plymouth has a fine new hall and library, Masterton a swimming pool, while Christchurch and Hastings have clock towers and memorial gateways. Fountains and pavilions may be seen in most urban areas.

Next Part: Conclusion