War and remembrance

Page 8 – Remembering the New Zealand Wars

In memorialising our experiences of war, to what extent have we overlooked our own internal wars? Of the more than 800 war memorials to be found in New Zealand, only some 70 commemorate the people, places and events associated with our 19th century wars. NZHistory provides a map of these New Zealand Wars memorials with further information on each. It also provides an overview of these internal conflicts as well as separate features on the main campaigns.

These wars have always been problematic for many New Zealanders. There has been disagreement over what to actually call them or how to explain their causes. These wars remain the ‘elephant in the room’ for many exploring our history. They were quite localised conflicts, which might explain why they are not acknowledged by a single national monument. But it would be worth exploring some of the other reasons for why this might be the case.

  • Why do you think there is no national war memorial to the New Zealand Wars?
  • Your class could consider putting a case for including something that acknowledges the New Zealand Wars at the National War Memorial in Wellington. If you have never been to the memorial you can get some sense of what it is like here to help you with this activity. In 2004 the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was ‘added’ to the memorial some 70 years after it was opened – so there is precedent for change at the memorial. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is responsible for this site. You could write to the ministry outlining individual proposals for such an addition or perhaps a collective idea as to what would be appropriate and why. Alternatively you could consider arguments for why such a commemoration would be inappropriate for this site.
  • Look at some of the inscriptions on some of the memorials catalogued on the New Zealand Wars memorials map. What seems to be the tone/style of these memorials? What words or expressions stand out for you? Compare the wording or style with the world war memorials also found on NZHistory.net. What, if any seem to be the key differences?
How to cite this page

'Remembering the New Zealand Wars ', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/war-and-remembrance/remembering-the-new-zealand-wars, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 27-Jul-2015

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