Education programme at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, administers the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park (Pukeahu) in Wellington. This is the national place for New Zealanders to remember and reflect on this country’s experience of overseas war, military conflict and peacekeeping, and how that experience shapes our ideals and sense of national identity. The park is a public gathering space for ceremonial occasions.

Pukeahu opened in April 2015. It was built to create a space around the existing National War Memorial and was the government’s key project to acknowledge the centenary of the First World War. The Memorial is actually two buildings from two different eras. The art-deco carillon tower was opened on Anzac Day 1932 and the Hall of Memories was completed in 1964. The carillon – a musical instrument made up of large bells – stands 50 metres tall. Each of the original 49 bells of the Carillon bears a name or inscription in memory of those to whom it is dedicated. Twenty-five bells have been added to the Carillon since the first bells were cast, bringing the total number to 74. The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior contains the remains of a New Zealand soldier who died on the Somme during the First World War, but whose body could not be identified. He was re-interred in his new tomb on Armistice Day, 11 November 2004.

Pukeahu can be used by teachers and educators as a place to think critically about perspectives and controversial issues that affect young people and New Zealand society today, as well as the form and function of remembrance and commemoration. An education programme operates at Pukeahu supported by a full-time educator.

Pukeahu provides an opportunity for citizenship learning, an important cross-curricular theme of the NZC. Young people learn to be citizens from a wide range of life experiences outside as well as inside the classroom. Visiting Pukeahu can be one such experience. Active citizenship can be fostered by asking whose voices, values, and experiences are missing. Here young people can be encouraged to ask about their society and its future – to consider the ‘so what?’ and the ‘and now what?’ in relation to their active citizenship.

The Queen Elizabeth II Pukeahu Education Centre was opened in August 2016. This refurbished heritage building, the former Home of Compassion Crèche, was constructed in 1914 and is one of New Zealand’s first dedicated child daycare buildings. It was designed by prominent architect John Swan for the Roman Catholic Sisters of Compassion so they could continue the pioneering crèche service begun by their founder, Suzanne Aubert.

In preparing for a visit or any experience outside the classroom, teachers need to ask what experiences they want their students to have. What do they want them to be able to do? Such questions encourage deeper thinking that goes beyond simply passing on information. They encourage a more active and cognitively sophisticated approach. To support such learning experiences at Pukeahu, a framework has been developed based on nine principles. This is intended to provide ‘design tools’ for developing powerful learning experiences for teachers contemplating a visit to Pukeahu. While intended for teachers and educators of all age groups and subject areas, they have been written especially with the social sciences, humanities and the arts in mind. The nine principles are:

  1. Foreground the purpose of the visit
  2. Prioritise conceptual approaches to learning
  3. Embed visits within a pre, during and post framework
  4. Collaborate with educators
  5. Discuss controversial issues
  6. Balance emotional and critical responses
  7. Separate memory and history
  8. Use sites as opportunities to explore Māori history
  9. Use collective pronouns carefully.

For more detail on each of these principles, see the full pedagogical framework for the Education Programme at Pukeahu National Memorial Park here.

How to cite this page

'Education programme at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 10-Aug-2021

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