Wherever one travels in New Zealand, every city, town, village, community and settlement has their own war memorial to acknowledge the sacrifice and lives lost to save the mother country – from Tinui to Auckland city the local residents are understandably proud of their memorials which usually feature in the centre of towns.. Then there is London…
New Zealand War Memorial, ANZAC Day, London
As SWMBO was in London visiting the ANZAC memorial and attending the ANZAC service at Westminster Abbey, She knows you would be intrigued to see how the contribution by their last little colony, New Zealand, is remembered and represented in London.
A more colourful description of the embarrassment from Her fishy laundry assistant, describing the architectural unsuitability of such a peculiar memorial claiming it was sculpture (?) was not allowed past the censor.
He concurred with Richard Shone, editor of The Burlington Magazine, who criticised the memorial and its design as an attack on the “infestation of public space”, describing it as “bristlingly unlovely”
It is described as a symbol of both our common heritage and of New Zealand’s distinct identity. It is certainly distinctive.
Designed by architect John Hardwick-Smith and sculptor Paul Dibble the memorial consists of 16 cross-shaped vertical bronze ‘standards’ set out in formation on a grassy slope.
Each standard is adorned with text, patterns and small sculptures. “Through the words and images, any New Zealander visiting the memorial will recognise home, and British people may learn something of the relationship between our two countries,” explains Paul Dibble.
The memorial was dedicated on 11 November 2006 in the presence of the Royal Family and is expected to become a particular focus for Anzac Day commemorations in London each year.
The project was managed by the Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand Defence Force, and Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand. In London, it was carried out in cooperation with English Heritage and the Westminster City Council.
Called ‘Southern Stand’, the memorial consists of 16 bronze sculptures of varying heights set out in formation across a grassy slope in Hyde Park Corner. The design team explains that the memorial “marks a field for the commemoration and celebration of New Zealand and Britain’s war-time and peace-time relationship”.
Paul Dibble’s wife and assistant Fran Dibble explains that the individual ‘standards’ are “made to stand in semi-grid formation calling to mind soldiers in procession, … Pouwhenua markers around Māori ancestral sites, or Celtic remains” like standing stones. The forward-leaning angle of the standards gives them a defiant pose “reminiscent of warriors during haka, the defensive bat in cricket, and the barrel of a shouldered gun”.
Six standards are positioned beyond the main group and are arranged to form the shape of the Southern Cross constellation. At night, their tops are illuminated so that the crosses appear like the southern stars, indicating the compass direction south … and pointing the way home for wandering Kiwis. Each standard is formed from two intersecting plates of bronze, which are cut at a diagonal plane at the top. From afar, they appear like a series of crosses hanging in the air, with some of the atmosphere of the soldiers’ mass cemeteries,’ says Fran Dibble.
So now you know….