French Memorial – Pukeahu Park

Stone blocks sitting on limestone gravel with New Zealand and French flags in the background

The French Memorial is a gift from France to New Zealand and is testimony to the friendship forged between our two countries since the First World War. Around 8,000 New Zealanders lost their lives in France during two world wars, more than in any other country.

Geneviève Darrieussecq, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Armed Forces (France) and Andrew Little, Minister of Justice, Courts, and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations unveiled the French Memorial on 4 May 2018.

Two people reading inscription on French Memorial

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Minister Andrew Little and Minister Geneviève Darrieussecq at the unveiling of the French Memorial.

Earlier ceremonies included the French Secretary of State for Veterans and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini unveiling a plaque in November 2016 and the burial of mauri stones and French limestone at the memorial site in December 2017.

Group of people standing behind a small hole in the ground filled with stones.

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Former French Ambassador Florence Jeanblanc-Risler placing French limestone into the site of French Memorial in December 2017.


Auckland-based architectural firm Patterson Associates Ltd, with Paul Baragwanath and Suzanne Turley Landscapes, designed the memorial. Their design, Le Calligramme, was one of 43 entries submitted by New Zealand and international teams in response to an architectural competition launched by the French government on 25 April  2016.

Le Calligramme evokes the bonds forged between New Zealand and France with a simple and striking design inscribed with the words of French soldier Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1915 poem ‘Le Chant de l’Honneur’ (Song of Honour). The memorial combines extensive landscaping with two large elements made of local stone and crushed French Combe Brune stone from the Western Front.

Writing in te reo Māori on stone.

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Māori whakataukī (proverb) 'Haere whakamua, titiro whakamuri' urging people to walk into the future, with their eyes open to the past.

The spatial composition of the memorial consists of three elegant components, soft landscaping, a honed plinth, and an intricate floating tabula. An audio and light presentation augment narrative engagement. Five stanzas raise lives above the earth and into our consciousness, creating space to encounter the blank loss of war with the hope of today, provoking a deeply spatial, temporal, and emotional engagement integrated into the experience of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

In 2019 the French Memorial received the Landscaping Award as part of the Concrete NZ awards held every two years.

More information

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

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

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