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In June 2014, the New Zealand Minister for Culture and Heritage has formally invited France to erect a monument in the Pukeaku National War Memorial Park. It arose from the discussions that the memorial – representing the long -lasting relations between the two nations – should be designed collectively, through a creative dialogue uniting French and New Zealand representatives from civil society.


In 2015, the Embassy of France in New Zealand first conducted series of interviews with more than thirty New Zealand professionals (artists, historians, designers, writers, experts involved in projects relating to the Great War, or in charge of commemorations) through a questionnaire. Their answers – gathered into a summary note – provided an overview of representations and ideas generated today by the Great War in New Zealand. This first work contributed to the development of a first understanding of what the Memorial should reflect. 


With the support of the French Ministry of Defence and the French First World War Commission, a symposium was then organised from December 6 to 12, 2015.


It gathered six prominent New Zealanders, and was aimed to establish, through a dialogue between France and New Zealand, a document which set out the general specifications for the memorial, in regards to aesthetics, design and remembrance purposes.

For a full week, the New Zealand delegation interacted with French organisations and specialists involved in the WW1 commemorations, and visited some of the most significant places of remembrance for France, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries on the Western Front, such as Carrière Wellington and the Verdun Memorial, among many others. Three French participants - photographer Jean Richardot, visual artist Patrice Alexandre and historian Yves Le Maner - also joined the New Zealand delegates to discuss how French and New Zealanders look together at this part of our shared history. 

The brief produced on the conclusion of the symposium focuses on the main ideas that the memorial should represent, leaving some creative flexibility to the architects and designers to best represent them.


Rhys Jones

Head of the Delegation

Retired Senior NZ Army Officer

As Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force from 2011 to 2014, Lt. Gen. Rhys Jones actively participated to the development of the New Zealand’s First World War Centennial project. Then as Executive Director of the National Military Heritage Charitable Trust, he has coordinated the fundraising, operational management and construction tasks for Peter Jackson's ongoing documentary 

Elizabeth Knox


As a recipient of Katherine Mansfield Fellowship in 1999, Elizabeth Knox  has spent a few months in Menton, France. Her first novel, After-Z Hour, was first published on Armistice Day 1987 and won the PEN Award for Best First Book of Prose. In the story, a young New Zealand serviceman who died in 1920 soon after his return from France comes back to haunt the minds of six young people stranded in an old house.

Dave Amstrong

Playwright, screenwriter and columnist 

Dave’s works and projects - widely acknowledged throughout New Zealand - often deal with Remembrance of the First World War. His play "King and Country" tells the story of New Zealand soldiers in World War I. As a writer and consultant, Dave Amstrong also participated to Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War  exhibition at Te Papa, and as a writer and audio director on the groundbreaking Ngā Tapuwae app, providing e-guides for visitors to Gallipoli and the Western Front. He also wrote scripts for the first two series of Great War Stories (Hilary Barry TV3).

Monty Soutar

Doctor in History

Dr Monty Soutar is a senior historian at Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage and is the World War One Historian-in-Residence at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. He is also a member of the WW100 First World War Centenary Panel and the 28th Maori Battalion Scholarship Board. Following on from his successful book Nga Tama Toa, about the role of the 28th Maori Battalion during the Second World War, he is working on a major publication about Maori participation in the First World War. 

Stephen McDougall

Registered NZ Architect

Stephen McDougall has been a Director of Studio Pacific since the company's founding in 1992. Studio Pacific Architecture, in collaboration with sculptor Kingsley, designed the New Zealand Memorial, located on the Anzac Parade in Canberra, Australia. The Memorial was a gift from the New Zealand Government celebrating the relationship between the two countries. Other relevant Studio projects include the restoration and renovation of the Carillion, the Hall of Memories and the setting for Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the head of Wellington’s new Pukeahu Park.

Robin Laing

Film Producer

Robin Laing is one of New Zealand’s most experienced film producers. She serves on the boards for the New Zealand International Film Festival Trust, the Film Career Education Trust and WIFT New Zealand. She is a past board member of the New Zealand Film Commission, the New Zealand Film Archive (Nga Taonga), the Producers and Directors Guild (SPADA), the Copyright Council and Screenrights and was appointed to the government’s Screen Industry Task Force in 2002.


As a result of these discussions, 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.

The memorial should acknowledge and illustrate the enduring friendship between the two countries, even though it should not be conceived purely as a tribute to the fallen of the First World War, but rather as a living monument, guiding their mutual future.

The design should aim to create a deeply emotional response and a strong engagement with its visitors. It includes a French component in its conception: indeed, it is made from French stones, found in a place of military significance during World War One. 

The memorial should be understandable for people who don't have a deep knowledge of World War One, and focus on the present of the bilateral relation between our two countries. For this reason, the monument features inscriptions in Maori and French.

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