Guests at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park following the dedication of the Australian Memorial (Photo: courtesy of New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage-Manatū Taonga)

War memorial park opening launches Wellington's centenary Anzac Week

Posted on on 20 April 2015
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New Zealand has opened its new Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, launching a week of Anzac commemorations in the run-up to the centenary of the Gallipoli landings on April 25th 2015.

The park, in the heart of the capital, Wellington, is the Government's centrepiece legacy project marking the First World War Centenary.

Prime Minister John Key was joined by his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, on April 20th for the dedication of a new Australian Memorial at the site, two days after its official opening.

Fifteen rugged sandstone columns represent the 'red centre' of Australia. The central column is inscribed 'Anzac' in memory of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Australian and New Zealand troops fought their first major campaign overseas when they landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915 as part of the Allied attack on Turkey.

The memorial is a reciprocal gesture for the New Zealand Memorial in the Australian capital, Canberra.

Anzac spirit

Prime Minister John Key said: "The name Gallipoli has become synonymous with acts of great courage, immense hardship and terrible sacrifice on both sides of the campaign.

"For New Zealanders and Australians in particular, it is also the symbolic beginning of what we now think of as the Anzac spirit.

"Like its brother in Canberra, this is a monument to past sacrifice and future endeavour, and to the bonds between our people and yours."

Construction of the park, creating an open space for reflection and remembrance in front of the National War Memorial and its carillon, has taken more than two years.

A major road was sunk into an underpass as part of the project. It's been named the Arras Tunnel in honour of the New Zealand soldiers who dug a network of tunnels in the run-up to the Battle of Arras in France in 1917.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park takes its title from a local Maori name, suggesting a 'sacred hill,' or place to perform rituals.

It will be at the centre of New Zealand's Centenary Anzac Day commemorations on Saturday April 25th 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. It will host the Dawn Service at 5.30am and National Anzac Day Service at 11am. 

The park will also carry a live big-screen broadcast of the Dawn Service from Gallipoli at 2.30pm.

Full details of Wellington's Anzac Week events, including a nightly sound & light show on the National War Memorial carillon, can be found on the Ministry for Culture & Heritage website.  

An exhibition remembering the Great War, created by 'Lord of the Rings' film-maker Sir Peter Jackson, has also opened in the Dominion Museum building, just behind the War Memorial.

Source: New Zealand Government

Images sourced from Ministry for Culture & Heritage -ManatÅ« Taonga (Creative Commons via flickr)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News