Otago South African War memorial in Dunedin

Otago South African War memorial in Dunedin

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The South African (Boer) War Memorial at the Dunedin Oval. The memorial lists men of the Otago district who died in the war. The top of the memorial shows a trooper protecting his mate.

Detail from memorial

The memorial was designed and erected by Carlo Bergamini.

Over ten thousand people attended the largest gathering in Forbury Park in 1903 in support of the memorial to Otago troopers who fell in the South African War. Four hundred and thirty pounds, over half the money needed, was raised.

The popular event was one of a number of floral fetes and gymkhanas organised by women after the Otago Presbytery rejected appeals for money. In Otago, it was decided there would be no individual canvassing and they should rely on societies, churches and schools. There was no direct government funding although it did agree to frank all correspondence.

The imposing monument erected in the southern Oval on 29 November 1906 features a soldier standing over a wounded comrade and was designed by Dunedin’s Carlo Bergamini (born in Italy in 1870). The complex and richly symbolic iconography of two flags – Union Jack and New Zealand ensign – indicated strong imperial ties while the impressive sculpture work in Italian marble indicated international trade and an appreciation of European tradition. There are also regimental badges carved on the monument.

The Fallen Soldiers Memorial Committee’s original proposal was for a large arch at the entrance to the Triangle (now Queens Gardens) but plans were already in place there for a statue of Queen Victoria and the committee didn’t want to 'overawe' her.

Further information

  • Chris Maclean and Jock Phillips, The Sorrow and the Pride: New Zealand War Memorials, GP Books, Wellington, 1990

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