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Australian Memorial – Pukeahu Park

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A group of red coloured pillars arranged on a concrete foundation

The Australian Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park commemorates the long and close relationship between the people of Australia and New Zealand. Dedicated on 20 April 2015, it was the first overseas memorial erected at the park.

Design

The memorial, designed Australian architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, is comprised of a series of rugged red sandstone columns, which represent the heart of Australia – its ‘red centre’. Each column stands on a band of the same red stone, between them bands of grey stone symbolise the New Zealand landscape: the interweaving is a perpetual reminder of the united destiny of the two nations.

The word ANZAC inscribed on black marble in the centre of a red pillar

Colin McLellan

View of the central pillar of the Australian Memorial.

Inscribed on the central column is the word ‘Anzac’. Originally an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps formed in Egypt in December 1914, it was first written as ‘A & NZ Army Corps’. However, army clerks soon shortened it to Anzac as a convenient telegraphic code name for addressing telegram messages. Today Anzac is emblematic of the long and close relationship between the two nations and their shared goals in peace and war.

The artwork of the first peoples of both Australia and New Zealand feature on seven of the columns.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art from the Balarinji design studio in Sydney focuses on four designs elements depicting cultural artifacts and aspects of war and peace – Billabong, Totem stripes, Artifact, and Abudji dance.

Billabong are secret places by water where travellers gather in the cool of dusk. Arduous journeys across hot and dusty landscapes test the tribe’s resilience and capacity to adapt to danger and opportunity. Clan groups follow the tracks of their ancestors through sandhills and creeks to seasonal camping grounds by the billabong, where they gather fish and turtles, and water lily seeds.

Totem stripes are applied with soft white ochre warmed by summer sun. Songmen paint patterns of the dreaming, in rituals passed down from men to boys, from one generation of warriors to the next. Ancient art is etched into cave walls and rocky cliff faces or painted on the body of dancers and songmen. Designs are sometimes everyday decoration, sometimes secret ceremonial symbols.

Aretfacts shape the wisdom of ancient tribes and are a sustaining force of country. Knowledge is passed down from generation to generation around campfires under desert skies. The warriors’ shields are a symbol of protection. Navigating country comes from knowledge passed from warrior to warrior. Shields of clansmen carry ceremony marks to re-enact story and preserve identity. Tracks lead the warriors across dry dusty landscapes in a procession to new hunting grounds.

Abudji is a women’s dance of the creator snake ancestor. Women play a vital role in the ceremonial life of the tribe and have their own secret songs and dances, performed at times of importance. Women share knowledge around the campfire, as food is prepared after long journeys. Body paint and dance sticks tell the stories of the Dreaming when spirit ancestors crossed the land and named the mountains, rivers, and seas.

Māori artworks

Artist Jacob Manu Scott drew inspiration from the poetry of Hone Tuwhare and tikanga Māori (Māori customs) to develop pieces carved into three pillars (pou) of the Australian Memorial – Wairuatanga, Whanaungatanga, and Kaitiakitanga.

Wairuatanga, the embedded spirit. The connection between the physical realm and spiritual realm informs Māori concepts and values imbedded within everyday practice. Wairuatanga is a way of sustaining relationships between people and place in a positive multidimensional way. To acknowledge and practice Māori beliefs and values is to acknowledge the relationship between the physical and spiritual realms.

Whanaungatanga is based on ancestral and spiritual connections and inter-relationships. The concept of whanaungatanga embraces whakapapa (genealogy), encouraging group relationships and a sense of family connection.

Kaitiakitanga involves guardianship and stewardship. In architectural terms this could translate to recognition of a need to sustain cultural and environmental features.

Australian–New Zealand military history

Black granite insets of seven columns feature the names of the following theatres of war and operations in which Australians and New Zealanders served alongside each other.

New Zealand and Australian prime ministers John Key and Tony Abbott inspect lines of people in various military uniforms

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Former New Zealand and Australian prime ministers, John Key and Tony Abbott, inspecting the guard of honour at the Australian Memorial dedication service in April 2015.

South Africa

From 1899 to 1902 at least 16,000 Australians served in the South African War (also known as the Boer War) as part of the forces of the British Empire, first representing the individual colonies and from 1901 the federated Australian nation. The majority served in mounted units. Over 600 Australians lost their lives.

Australia and the Boer War, 1899–1902 – Australian War Memorial

South African 'Boer' War – NZHistory

South African War – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Gallipoli

In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition to capture the Gallipoli peninsula and open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. A stalemate ensued and the campaign dragged on for eight months. Allied forces evacuated in late 1915, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. 8700 Australian soldiers died alongside 2779 New Zealanders.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its objectives it left a powerful legacy for both nations. The creation of the ‘Anzac legend’ became an important part of Australian and New Zealand identity, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

Gallipoli Campaign 1915 – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

The Gallipoli campaign – NZHistory

Gallipoli and the war against Turkey – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Flanders

The Anzac experience of Flanders centred on the town of Ypres in Belgium and the section of the Western Front known as the Ypres Salient. It was in this area in that the Third Battle of Ypres was fought from July to November 1917. Despite Anzac success at Broodseinde Ridge, Australian and New Zealand forces sustained enormous losses in an unsuccessful effort to capture Passchendaele in October. Fighting in appalling weather, the New Zealand Division suffered 845 men killed and almost 1900 wounded in a single day. These casualties amounted to five percent of New Zealand's total casualties in the entire First World War. In nine weeks of fighting Australia suffered 38,000 casualties, with 6,673 dying in October alone.

Australians on the Western Front 1916 to 1918 - Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

1917: Arras, Messines and Passchendaele – NZHistory

Western Front, 1916 to 1917 – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Northern France

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) redeployed to the Western Front in France and Belgium. For the remainder of the war, these forces served separately, rather than as combined Anzac forces. Australia’s first major engagement, the disastrous Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916, resulted in over 5,500 casualties. Both nation’s forces endured great hardship and learned bloody lessons on the Somme in 1916, where 23,000 Australians were killed or wounded at Pozieres in six weeks.

In March and April of 1918 Australian and New Zealand troops would each fight decisive battles to counter the great German spring offensive, nowhere to greater effect than on the Somme. At Hébuterne an Australian brigade fought alongside the New Zealand Division, and, together with the Australian battles at Dernancourt and Villers-Bretonneux, halted a major German breakthrough. Both forces played decisive but costly spearhead roles in the following advance, which led to the end of the war.

Australians on the Western Front 1916 to 1918 - Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

1916: Armentières and the Battle of the Somme - NZHistory

1918: Spring Offensive and Advance to Victory – NZHistory

Western Front, 1918 – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Sinai-Palestine

In the Middle East from 1916 to 1918, in conditions completely different from the mud and stagnation of the Western Front, Australian and New Zealand mounted formations led the Allied advance from the Suez Canal, through the Sinai and Palestine and into Syria, which broke the Turkish Ottoman Army. By the standards of the Western Front, casualties were comparatively light, with 1,394 Australians killed or wounded.

Sinai and Palestine Campaign – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

Sinai campaign – NZHistory

Palestine campaign – NZHistory

Mesopotamia

When the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War, British and Indian troops were sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq) to secure recently discovered oil fields. In 1915 Australia contributed the Mesopotamian or Australian Half Flight, the first Australian operational air deployment of the war, and other elements. The first air crew losses were Lieutenant G. P. Merz of Australia and Lieutenant W. W. A. Burn of New Zealand who died alongside each other after their aircraft was forced down.

Mesopotamia Campaign – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

William Burn – NZHistory

Wireless Troop in Mesopotamia – NZHistory

Greece

Hastily organised Anzac and British forces arrived in Greece shortly before the German invasion began on 6 April 1941. Vastly outnumbered, the Allies were unable to halt the rapid German advance and were later evacuated by British and Australian warships and transports. In Greece 320 Australians were killed and 2,030 Australian troops became prisoners of war.

Greece and Crete – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

Greece and Crete, 1941 – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Crete

Many of the Australian and New Zealanders evacuated from Greece in 1941 found themselves in Crete preparing for its defence. German paratroopers commenced large-scale landings on 20 May 1941. Anzac troops inflicted very heavy losses on the German forces, and a gallant rear-guard action by the 2/7th Battalion, AIF, and the New Zealand 28th (Māori) Battalion allowed many of the withdrawing Allied forces to reach the evacuation point in Suda Bay. By the time the island fell on 29 May, 274 Australians had been killed and over 3,000 taken prisoner.

Crete, Kreta: the battles of May 1941 – Australian War Memorial

The Battle for Crete – NZHistory

North Africa

Australians and New Zealanders served in both land and air campaigns in North Africa against Germany and Italy, and at sea in the Mediterranean. Both nations’ forces played critical roles at El Alamein, the decisive battle of the North African campaign which led to eventual victory in North Africa, before the bulk of Australian forces would return to Australia to counter the threat from Japan. The Australian 9th Division suffered 2,700 casualties killed, wounded, or missing at El Alamein. 

El Alamein – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

The North African Campaign – NZHistory

North African campaign – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Pacific

When Japan entered the war in December 1941, the Pacific became the focus of Australia’s war effort. Australians served on land, at sea and in the air from Singapore to the Solomon Islands. The surrender of Singapore in February 1942 saw more than 15,000 Australians taken prisoner. Darwin was bombed, and Japanese submarines entered Sydney Harbour. Between July and November 1942 fierce fighting on the Kokoda Track in Papua and New Guinea turned back the Japanese overland advance on Port Moresby. Bitter fighting at Buna, Gona and Sanananda, and later around Lae enabled the successful advance along the North Coast of New Guinea and subsequent operations in Borneo and Balikpapan.

Japanese advance – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

War in the Pacific – NZHistory

Japan enters the war – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Air war in Europe

Australians and New Zealanders served with distinction in the skies over Europe in the Second World War. Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) airmen flew in British, Australian and New Zealand squadrons of Coastal, Bomber and Fighter Commands. Most served in Bomber Command, taking part in the costly air war against Germany. The 3,846 Australians killed in Bomber Command accounted for almost 20 per cent of Australian combat deaths but represented less than two per cent of enlistments. 

Air war Europe 1939-1945 – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

Royal New Zealand Air Force 1913–1945 – NZHistory

Korea

In 1950 Australian and New Zealand forces joined a United Nations force to support South Korea following its invasion by North Korea. Later, China joined forces with North Korea. New Zealand artillery support was central to Australian and Canadian success at the battle of Kapyong in 1951 and Australian operations continued until an Armistice in July 1953 ending the fighting. A final agreement – a peace treaty – has yet to be signed. Over 17,000 Australians of the army, navy and air force served during the Korean War. Some 340 were killed and over 1,500 were wounded.

Korean War, 1950-53 – Australian War Memorial

Korean War – NZHistory

Korean War – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Malaya

Australian air and later ground forces served in Malaya from 1950 until the Malayan Emergency concluded in 1960. Alongside British and New Zealand forces, they fought a skilful and highly successful campaign against the communist insurgency that had begun in 1948.

Malayan Emergency – Australian War Memorial

Malayan Emergency – NZHistory

Borneo

British, Australian and New Zealand forces in served an undeclared counter-insurgency war in Borneo following Indonesian raids into Malaysian territory in 1963. Australian forces were committed to this campaign (known as ‘Confrontation’) in 1965 until Confrontation formally ended in August 1966. It was the last occasion in which Australians and New Zealanders fought for what was essentially a British cause – the fate of former British colonial possessions in Southeast Asia.

Indonesian Confrontation – Australian War Memorial

Confrontation in Borneo – NZHistory

Vietnam

Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1962 when 30 advisers were sent to support South Vietnamese forces. By the time the main body of Australian forces had departed in 1972, around 60,000 Australians had served in Vietnam. Australians and New Zealanders served alongside one another in Anzac battalions, and New Zealand artillery support was central to Australian success in the epic battle at Long Tan in 1966. Australia sustained 3,500 casualties in Vietnam, 521 of whom lost their lives.

Vietnam War – Australian War Memorial

New Zealand's Vietnam War – VietnamWar.govt.nz

Bougainville

Many Australians served in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, during the Second World War against the Japanese. Post-war, tensions between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea turned to separatist insurgency in 1989, sparking one of the most serious conflicts in the South Pacific region since the Second World War. Australia led a brief peacekeeping force in October 1994 (Operation Lagoon), followed by a New Zealand-led Truce Monitoring Group in late 1997 and an Australian-led Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) from early 1998 until 2003. The PMG comprised service personnel and civilians from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Vanuatu. The PMG created the conditions for the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Australian peacekeepers in Bougainville – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

Melanesia and the Bougainville crisis – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

East Timor

Following 25 years of Indonesian rule in East Timor, Indonesia allowed the territory to vote for its independence in 1999. The vote was conducted by the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), to which Australia contributed police. The outcome led to a campaign of violence by pro-Indonesian militias. With Indonesia’s agreement, Australia then led INTERFET, the International Force for East Timor, from September 1999. At its peak, there were more than 11,000 troops deployed by 23 contributing countries, including New Zealand. Australia’s deployment reached a peak of 5,700 troops in November 1999. The last Australian troops to leave East Timor returned home in 2012.

Australian peacekeepers in East Timor – Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs

Bougainville and East Timor – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

New Zealand soldier killed in Timor-Leste – NZHistory

Solomon Islands

From July 2003 Australia led the Regional Assistance to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) mission assisting the government of the Solomon Islands to restore law and order. The operation was supported by fifteen countries from the Pacific region, with troop contributions from five countries: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga. RAMSI transitioned to a policing mission from July 2013.

RAMSI – Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Iraq

Elements of the Australian military participated in the First Gulf War in 1991 in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait the previous year. In 2003 Australia joined the 'Coalition of the Willing' to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein. All three services participated in Australia's involvement from July 2003 to July 2009. Both Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) ships served in the Multinational Interception Force – Persian Gulf. Members of the New Zealand Defence Force served in Iraq in 2003–04 providing reconstruction assistance.

Gulf War & Iraq – Australian War Memorial

Later Asian wars – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Afghanistan

Australia joined the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC. In time, the international coalition would comprise 49 nations, including New Zealand. Personnel from each of the Australian services served in Afghanistan over the years to 2014. The mission aimed to assist the people of Afghanistan, but also to promote the security of the region, diminish the influence of terrorist groups, and create a safer global environment. Australia’s longest war cost 42 Australian lives, with more than 260 wounded.

Afghanistan – Australian War Memorial

Peacekeeping

Both Australia and New Zealand share a long and distinguished history of participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, many conducted under the banner of the United Nations. From Australia’s participation in the very first United Nations peacekeeping mission in Indonesia in 1947, it has contributed to more than 60 United Nations and multilateral missions, many involving Anzac contingents, in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central America, Europe and the Middle East.

Australians and Peacekeeping – Australian War Memorial

Peacekeeping – Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

More information

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park – Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage 

Australian War Memorial

How to cite this page

Australian Memorial – Pukeahu Park, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/australian-memorial-pukeahu-park, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated