New Zealand Wars memorial, Howick

New Zealand Wars memorial, Howick

Original lists Bronze Plaque

At midday on 29 August 1920 Sir Frederic Lang, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, unveiled two wooden memorial tablets in Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Picton St, Howick. These were inscribed with the words: ‘Erected in memory / of the / Imperial Soldiers / who fought in the Maori War / and are interred in the / Howick cemetery’. One tablet lists 29 names and the other 30.

That afternoon, Bishop Dr H.W. Cleary unveiled two similar tablets in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Panmure. These carried the names of another 66 veterans who had been buried in the Panmure cemetery.

Many of the men listed were former imperial soldiers who arrived in New Zealand between 1847 and 1852 as members of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles. They signed on for seven-year terms and were settled on the southern outskirts of Auckland to provide a defence against potential Māori attack. Newspaper reports of the tablets’ unveiling described these men as ‘Maori War veterans’, and the inscription quoted above suggests that they took part in hostilities. In fact, apart from regular musters and the occasional call-out, the Fencibles saw no active service.

Some years ago, the original tablets from Our Lady Star of the Sea were transferred to Howick Historical Village, where they are now on display in the former Howick Methodist church building. Replica tablets have recently been placed in Our Lady Star of the Sea.

At some stage – perhaps when the original St Patrick’s church was demolished in 1958 – the two wooden tablets installed in St Patrick’s were replaced by a single brass plaque, which is displayed in the foyer of the new church.


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