The French authorities in France and New Zealand, with support from the New Zealand Institute of Architects and other partners, decided to organise in 2016 a public architectural competition in New Zealand, the main prize of which is the design commission for the memorial.
France places great value on the significance of this memorial to celebrate the relationship between the two countries, the enduring friendship that unites them and the common memories they share, of which the First World War was a major example. Following the symposium held in France in December 2015, it has been agreed that the design process of the memorial should pay the greatest attention to the following:
A. As a gift from France to New Zealand, the memorial will acknowledge and illustrate the enduring friendship between the two countries, a relationship built through shared experiences of war and peacekeeping but also including deep cultural affinities. A marker of this relationship is that the bodies of 7533 New Zealand soldiers from the First World War still lie buried in France. However, the memorial is not to be conceived purely as a tribute to the fallen of the First World War, but rather as a living monument, acknowledging the shared history of the past 100 years and the shared interests of the two countries that guide their mutual future.
The memorial will acknowledge the journey of the friendship between the two countries and the barriers of time and distance that had to be overcome for that friendship to unfold, as reminded through the inscription on the New Zealand Memorial in Longueval: “From the uttermost ends of the earth / Des confins les plus reculés de la terre”. This was primarily a journey through the hardship of war and its aftermath to create a better world based on shared values.
B. A memorial designed as a bold and visionary experience should aim for these qualities:
- It should aim to create a deeply emotional response.
- It should provoke a physical and spatial engagement with visitors.
- It might relate to the landscape and textures of the French terrain during the First World War.
- It should invite exploration and perhaps visitor participation.
C. The memorial will be seen by the public as a reflection of France, therefore applicants are strongly encouraged to include a French component into the memorial, either through the participation of a French creative professional in the design, the collaboration with a French organization, or through the inclusion in the construction of elements symbolic of France or coming from France (objects, plants, memorabilia).
Applicants are also encouraged to rely on the experience gathered by the participants to the symposium, through the ideas contained in the report or by associating them to their proposal.
D. The memorial should appeal to different categories of visitors:
- It should be designed to have significance for both New Zealand and French visitors.
- It should seek to be understood by different generations and demographics: from people who don’t know much about the First World War and focus on the present of the bilateral relation to those who might have lost relatives in it.
- It should invite further inquiry and stimulate the imagination.
- Should there be any inscription, it would have to be included in 3 languages: English, Maori, French.
- It must be suitable for official ceremonies (for example, there should be space to congregate for wreath-laying ceremonies, etc.) and include a location for a visible and accessible dedicatory plaque.