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Auckland cenotaph


The cenotaph in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum has a Category 1 listing from Heritage New Zealand.

The first Auckland cenotaph was a temporary structure made of wood and plaster. A scaled-down replica of the cenotaph in Whitehall, London, designed by Edward Lutyens, it was first erected in front of the Auckland Town Hall for Anzac Day 1922.

Mourners laid wreaths at the foot of the cenotaph before and after the Anzac Day service in the Town Hall. The cenotaph was then dismantled and stored in the basement of the town hall until the next Anzac Day.

In 1928 the Returned Soldiers’ Association proposed the erection of a permanent cenotaph at the new Auckland War Memorial Museum. The proposal was adopted, and the Anglican Archbishop of Auckland, Walter Averill, consecrated the cenotaph in the court of honour below the museum on 28 November 1929. Later in the ceremony Governor-General Sir Charles Fergusson formally opened the museum itself.

 The permanent cenotaph, the plans for which were drawn up by Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, the architects of the museum, was also a replica of the Whitehall cenotaph, set on a foundation of Coromandel granite and constructed of concrete faced with Portland stone.

Auckland’s Anzac Day ceremony was first held at the cenotaph on 25 April 1930.

The cenotaph is inscribed with the words ‘THE GLORIOUS DEAD’ and the dates MCMXIV [1914] and MCMXVIII [1918]. The names of the fallen are listed inside the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Sources: ‘The White Shrine’, NZ Herald, 26/4/1922, p. 9; ‘The Glorious Dead’, Auckland Star, 26/4/1922, p. 7; ‘Cenotaph Wanted’, Auckland Star, 27/4/1928, p. 9; ‘Opening of Museum’, Auckland Star, 6/11/1929, p. 11; ‘Services on Friday’, Auckland Star, 23/4/1930, p. 10; ‘At the Cenotaph’, Auckland Star, 26/4/1930, p. 10; H.E. Vaile, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Domain Hill, Auckland, 1929; The Centennial History of the Auckland Institute & Museum, ed. A.W.B. Powell, Auckland, 1967, pp. 25-9; Auckland War Memorial Museum: An Architectural History, Auckland, 1997, pp. 5-6; Richard Wolfe, A Noble Prospect: 75 Years of the Auckland War Memorial Museum Building, Auckland, 2004, pp. 28-33.


Images: Martin Jones, Heritage New Zealand, 2001; The temporary cenotaph, ca 1925, Auckland Libraries Sir George Grey Special Collections 7-A15913

Text by Bruce Ringer, Auckland Libraries, 2014.

Find out more about this memorial from the Heritage New Zealand website

How to cite this page

Auckland cenotaph, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated