New Lynn Memorial Library and Square

New Lynn Memorial Library and Square

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In 1947 New Lynn Borough Council decided to build a community centre as the town’s Second World War memorial. A site between the Great North Road and Totara Avenue was chosen. The plans featured a memorial court, borough chambers, public library, kindergarten, gymnasium, meeting rooms, sports pavilion, tennis courts and basketball courts. Most of these facilities were eventually built on or near the site, although the kindergarten was ultimately located elsewhere. On 28 April 1956 war memorial Plunket rooms were opened, followed by a war memorial library in May 1957. On 25 April 1958 Governor-General Lord Cobham unveiled a war memorial cenotaph at one end of the memorial lawn. This incorporated three bronze tablets created by sculptor Richard Gross. The term ‘Memorial Square’ later came into use for the area. The square was redeveloped in 1974 with the addition of a rock mound opposite the cenotaph.

In 1997 the tablets from the old cenotaph were temporarily transferred to the local RSA as a complete reconstruction of the square began. The revamped square was rededicated on 11 November 1998. The central feature was a series of 16 brick pillars representing soldiers at drill, with water running down the pillars to symbolise the tears shed by loved ones. The bronze tablets from the original cenotaph were inset into the pillars.

On Anzac Day 2000 sculptures by Māori artists Sunnah Thompson and Rewi Spraggon of Matariki Carvers were added at opposite corners of the memorial: a wooden carving representing the prow of a canoe, and a stainless steel structure representing its bow. On 20 April 2001 two former prisoners of war, Frank Hitchcock and Bruce Russell, unveiled a brass plaque inscribed with the names of 33 local men who had died in the two world wars and the Korean conflict.

Finally, a new public library was built adjoining the memorial square. This was officially named the New Lynn Memorial Library on its opening day, 18 October 2005.

Sources: ‘Proposed Community Centre for New Lynn’, NZ Herald, 23/6/1947, p. 9; ‘Unveiling of New Lynn Memorial’, NZ Herald, 26/4/1958; Peter Buffet, New Lynn Jubilee, 1929-1989, New Lynn, 1989, p. 39; ‘Carvers Use Skills to Ease War Heroes’ Final Journey’, Western Leader, 4/5/2000, p. 3; ‘New Lynn Plaque to Fallen Unveiled, Western Leader, 26/4/2001, p. 3; ‘Living Memorial Honours the Dead’, Western Leader, 17/5/2001, pp. 18-19; H.F. Batley, People and Places: New Lynn 1930-1940, Auckland, 2002, pp. 53-5; Memorial Square, New Lynn, 1991-2004, Waitākere, 2004; ‘Reserves Heritage Inventory’, New Lynn Reserves Management Plan, 2004, esp. pp. 81-3; ‘Library Name Tribute to Soldiers’, Western Leader, 19/7/2005, p. 3; ‘$4.5m Home to a Whole Lot of Books’, Western Leader, 18/10/2005, p. 2. 

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David McCall

Posted: 22 Dec 2013

New Lynn Primary School has an Oak tree that was planted as a memorial to a KIA Gallipoli NZ Soldier...

can't rember who, but the tree is still there