War Memorial

15 Matthews Avenue And 10 Melba Street, Remembrance Park, Kaitaia

  • War Memorial, Kaitaia.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Stuart Park. Date: 2/05/2012.
  • War Memorial, Kaitaia. February 2008.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Stuart Park.
  • War Memorial, Kaitaia. February 2008.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Stuart Park.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 10015 Date Entered 31st October 2012


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 147-148 DP12724 (CT NA1008/288 and NA45A/179), North Auckland Land District, and the structures known as Kaitaia War Memorial thereon, including the structures associated with the First and Second World War, the South African War memorial, and the conflicts in Malaya-Borneo, and Vietnam). (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Far North District


Northland Region

Legal description

Lots 147-148 DP12724 (CT NA1008/288, NA45A/179), North Auckland Land District


Unveiled on 24 March 1916, the Kaitaia War Memorial was the third World War One war memorial in New Zealand. The memorial was the result of an initiative by Riapo Puhipi (Leopold Busby), a leader of Te Rarawa. An angel sculpted from Italian Carrara marble stood atop a plinth bearing an inscription that is remarkable and probably unique in being fully bilingual in Māori and English, bicultural in its embracing the service and sacrifice of both Māori and Pākehā, living and dead from Mangonui County, and poetic in its locally composed languages.

Somewhat overlooked in subsequent decades, the memorial was relocated in the 1960s to be placed alongside the World War Two memorial in Kaitaia. Both memorials were relocated in 1993 to their present prominent position in Remembrance Park, Kaitaia, incorporated in a memorial that includes commemoration of those who died during World War One or Two, as well as those who died during the South African War, or in the conflicts in Malaya-Borneo and Vietnam. The Kaitaia War Memorial is today the location of ANZAC Day observances in the Far North.

The Kaitaia War Memorial is a place of outstanding significance as one of the first World War One memorials constructed in New Zealand. The service and sacrifice that it originally commemorated, made by the New Zealand troops at Gallipoli in 1915, are considered to be an important element in the development of national identity. Its unique combination of bilingual and bicultural characteristics lends weight to its symbolic value, rarity, and its special national significance.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Kaitaia War Memorial was unveiled in March 1916 and is believed to be only the second World War One war memorial monument to be erected in New Zealand, and the third World War One war memorial. It was dedicated to the memory of those from Mangonui County, Māori and Pākehā, who had died in the war, as well as those who were still fighting overseas, and were by implication potentially also to die. Its commemorative function was later extended to include those who fell in World War Two and the wars or conflicts in South Africa, Korea, Malaya-Borneo and Vietnam. As such, the memorial is an important reminder of the impact that the wars and conflicts of the twentieth century have had on small communities throughout New Zealand.

The difficulty experienced by Te Rarawa in obtaining a site for the memorial is indicative of the loss of land they had experienced, and is thus indicative of the transfer of power and wealth that had occurred in the Far North, a matter which is still of considerable economic, social and cultural significance.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The prominent position of the Kaitaia War Memorial both when it was erected originally and at the present day has meant it has become an important local landmark. Its unusual use as a piece of public art of an angel normally associated with a cemetery adds to this significance. Although produced in a commercial context, the individual carving of the Italian marble sculptor expresses a calm sadness appropriate to a memorial. The Kaitaia War Memorial has considerable aesthetic value.

Cultural Significance or Value

The Kaitaia War Memorial has considerable significance as a monument initiated by Riapo Puhipi of Te Rarawa. Its bilingual inscription, its bicultural concerns and the fact that it was a Māori initiative in a substantially Māori community make it of special cultural significance.

Social Significance or Value

At the time of its erection the memorial was of considerable social importance to the community, Māori and Pākehā, as a focus and an acknowledgement of service and sacrifice, and as a point for people to grieve for, and honour, those who were serving or had died overseas. Subsequent to its removal to be associated with the World War Two memorial, and in 1993 the incorporation of both memorials in the current Remembrance Park, the memorial has been a consistent site of more general community remembrance and ongoing importance locally as the site of ANZAC Day ceremonies since the 1960s. Its informal designation and neglect as a ‘Māori memorial’ may be seen as symptomatic of the social divide that existed in much of small town New Zealand for many decades.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

This place is representative of, and an especially early example of the collective outpouring of memory and grief New Zealanders, and in this case especially Māori New Zealanders, demonstrated as a result of service and sacrifice during World War One and later World War Two and other conflicts, which resulted in the widespread construction of war memorials around the country. Because the Auckland Harbour Board memorial monument was not unveiled or dedicated with any ceremony, the unveiling of the Kaitaia War Memorial on 24 March 1916 represents the first unveiling of a World War One war memorial monument in New Zealand.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

Because of its erection as a war memorial this place is part of the legacy of events at Gallipoli in 1915, as well as New Zealand’s involvement later in World War One and in World War Two and other conflicts and the subsequent impact these had on the development of New Zealand’s national identity, society and economy.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

As well as providing a visual reminder of the significance of two World Wars and other conflicts in New Zealand’s history, this place also provides significant lessons in the relationship between Māori and Pākehā in New Zealand in peace and in war.

(d) The importance of the place to the tangata whenua

This place was erected as a Māori initiative, led by Riapo Puhipi of Te Rarawa. Its bilingual text, its bicultural sentiments, and its connection to troops of the New Zealand Pioneer (Māori) Battalion make it of outstanding importance to the history of tangata whenua, especially in Northland.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

At the time of its erection the World War One memorial was a source of considerable pride to its community. It honoured the men, Māori and Pākehā, of Mangonui County who had served and died in the war. Subsequently left for a period somewhat in isolation, since the 1960s and especially since 1993 it has been the site of ANZAC Day observances in Kaitaia. The Kaitaia community, the Far North (Kaitaia) Returned and Services Association and the Far North District Council have all contributed to its maintenance and upkeep, and see it as an outstanding symbol of the military service of their community.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The Kaitaia War Memorial has potential for public education regarding the immense impact that events at Gallipoli, and more generally World Wars One and Two and subsequent conflicts have had had on communities, particularly small rural ones and Māori communities, and also the relationships between Māori and Pākehā.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The Kaitaia War Memorial, as only the second war memorial monument to be erected in New Zealand during World War One, has special symbolic and commemorative value. The memorial now honours all those from the former Mangonui County who served and died in World War One and Two, and in later conflicts.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The Kaitaia War Memorial is a rare if not unique example of a fully bilingual World War One memorial in Māori and English. It is rare as a very early memorial erected during World War One, and because it was erected as an initiative by Māori.

Conclusion: It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category 1 historic place. The Kaitaia War Memorial is a special and outstanding place because of its very early date for a World War One memorial, its poetic, bilingual text, its origination by Māori and concern for both Māori and Pākehā, and the prominence given to it both by the local community and by scholars of New Zealand War memorials.

The Kaitaia War Memorial was long considered to be the first war memorial erected in New Zealand for World War One 1914 – 1918. It is now believed to be the third such memorial, and the second memorial monument. Its unveiling on 24 March 1916 was the first unveiling of a World War One war memorial monument in New Zealand.

This is believed to be the only World War One memorial in New Zealand that is fully bilingual in Maori and English, and it was certainly the first relating to World War One.

The Kaitaia War Memorial was the first memorial for World War One that was erected as a Māori initiative, by the people of Te Rarawa. It is unique among memorials erected by Māori in its explicit inclusion of both Māori and Pākehā, and is a rare example of a memorial for any war erected as a Māori initiative.

Although no longer known to be the first memorial for World War One, the Kaitaia War Memorial has been referred to as such in many publications on New Zealand war memorials, and is still considered to be an outstanding example.

The relocation of the World War One memorial does not detract from its significance, indeed it can be seen to have enhanced it. There is a widespread tradition in New Zealand of incorporating together memorials relating to the two World Wars as well as commemorating later conflicts. The efforts of the Kaitaia community to achieve this, and its on-going observance of ANZAC Day at the site of the combined memorials testifies to the special significance of this place.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

McNab & Mason Ltd


McNab was a sculptor and designer based in Auckland. McNab and Mason were responsible for the Cook Monument, Gisborne (1906). His monumental mason business was taken over by Parkinson and Boskill, also of Auckland.

Vanelli, Oreste

Carrara, Italy

Additional informationopen/close

Historical and associated iwi/hapu/whanau

Te Rarawa

Historical Narrative

Early History of Kaitaia

The history of the Kaitaia area is traversed in detail in the Muriwhenua Land Claim Report (WAI 45) of the Waitangi Tribunal. The Tribunal Report summarises the settlement history of Muriwhenua thus: It is sufficient to observe that at the end of the eighteenth century, as today, the main groups were: Ngati Kuri on the Northern Cape; Te Aupouri with their principal marae now at Te Kao; Ngai Takoto of Rangaunu; Te Rarawa, with principal aggregations in the south-west at Ahipara and Kaitaia; Ngati Kahu of Doubtless Bay, from Karikari to Oruru and Mangonui; and Ngati Kahu o Whangaroa, as now called, east of Mangonui.

The first permanent Pākehā settlement in the Kaitaia area came with the establishment in 1834 of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) mission at Kaitaia. Rev Joseph Matthews, with his brother-in-law Gilbert Puckey and their wives, the sisters Mary Ann and Matilda Davis, moved to Kaitaia from the CMS mission at Te Waimate, under the patronage and protection of Te Rarawa leader Tuwhare or Ngakuku Panakareao (? - 1856). Panakareao, who subsequently became a genuine convert to Christianity was the influential leader of Te Patu hapū of Te Rarawa. Panakareao supported James Busby as British Resident and was one of the signatories of the 1835 Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand. When Lieutenant Governor Hobson went to Kaitaia in April 1840 to obtain signatures for the Treaty of Waitangi, Panakareao welcomed him. During the hui called to discuss the Treaty on 28 April 1840 he spoke last. He reminded his people of his status and said he wished them to accept Hobson. He then uttered his most famous words: 'What have we to say against the governor, the shadow of the land will go to him but the substance will remain with us'. After he had spoken, the other chiefs hastened to follow his example by signing the Treaty. Ereanora, because of her high rank, signed it in her own right. However, a year later Panakareao had become dissatisfied. CMS missionary Richard Taylor summarised Panakareao's views: 'he thought the shadow of the land would go to the Queen and the substance remain with them but now he fears the substance of it will go to them and the shadow only be their [the Maori] portion.'

Some of the substance of the land certainly went to the missionaries. The Church Missionary Society itself was granted 1470 acres (595 hectares) in Kaitaia by Land Commissioner Bell in 1859. Also in Kaitaia, Rev. Joseph Matthews was granted 4188 acres (1695 hectares). Over the years, this land passed to several Matthews descendants.

Development of Kaitaia township

Canterbury born Allen Bell (1870 – 1936) worked as a bushman and farmer in Taranaki before travelling to southern Africa in 1895. He served with the British forces in the Matabele rising and with the Rhodesian Regiment during the opening months of the South African War. After his return to Taranaki in 1900 he married and took up land near Hamilton. He was a prominent figure in the farmers' union, and helped found the first co-operative dairy company in Waikato. Bell continued to play a prominent part in military matters. In April 1904 he was elected a lieutenant in No 1 Waikato Mounted Rifle Volunteers, rising to captain then major in 1908. In August 1908 Bell was made a lieutenant colonel and placed in command of the 2nd Regiment, Auckland Mounted Rifle Volunteers. From 1906 until 1910 he played a key role in the campaign for compulsory military training.

In 1914 Bell and his brothers, Leonard and Walter purchased the Kaitaia farm of Henry Blencoe Matthews, a grandson of Rev. Joseph Mathews. This farm was the land on which much of present-day Kaitaia township is sited. In December 1914, Bell subdivided 100 sections along both sides of Great North Road in Kaitaia, which was described as Kaitaia Extension no 2. These sections comprise what is now the whole central business district of Kaitaia along Commerce Street, from Bank Street at the southern end nearly to the junction with Pukepoto Road at the northern end. One section was excluded from the subdivision, marked ‘Post Office Site’. An earlier subdivision for Bell in November 1914 describes the land south and west of the Post Office site as being ‘undulating land recently cropped’ while the land to the north is described as ‘Grass flats’. The Post Office site was denied to Riapo Puhipi (first intro of him) when he sought it from the Government for his proposed memorial, but Bell donated a site on his land, south of the Post Office.

Much of the land purchased by the Bell brothers was swampy. Between 1916 and the early 1920s, however, a government drainage scheme converted thousands of acres of land in the Kaitaia area into sections suitable for agricultural, commercial and residential development. Bell actively supported the drainage scheme, and as a landowner and land agent was one of its principal beneficiaries.

Riapo Puhipi (Leopold Busby) (?1862 – 1919)

On 8 January 1916, L.T.Busby wrote from Pukepoto to the Minister of Defence, Hon J. Allen, saying: I have the honour to inform you that we have arranged to put up a ‘Memorial Stone’ in honour of our sons and relations that were in the front dead or alive, in the County of Mangonui, and we also come to a conclusion that Kaitaia would be the most central place in the County, that this Memorial should be erected and where it could be seen daily. The most suitable sites were at the Kaitaia Post Office frontage, New Zealand Bank frontage or Court House Kaitaia frontage. Of course, more room in the Court House frontage than the others otherwise either of these three quite suitable for the purpose. I wish therefore to ask your Hon. and the Govt and hope that you would kindly accept and grant our request for either of the above sites. Secondly we have decided to have this Memorial unveil some time in March next by the Governor or by yourself as Minister of Defence or by any of the ministers appointed. I have written also Hon. M. Pomare on the same subject…Kia ora. I remain Sir, Yours Faithfully, L.T.Busby

This L.T.Busby was Riapo Te Ripi Puhipi, or Leopold Busby, a leading chief of Te Rarawa from Pukepoto. The fact that he was seeking a grant of land from the Crown is a direct consequence of the passing of much of the substance of the land in Kaitaia to the Crown, as his tupuna Panakareao had feared. Riapo Puhipi was son of Timoti Te Ripi or Timoti Puhipi, who was son of Puhipi Te Ripi, who signed the Treaty of Waitangi with Panakareao at Kaitaia on 28 April 1840. One measure of the prominent place Riapo held in Te Rarawa is afforded by the remarkable account of his first marriage to Mary Hardiman in 1880, when the procession of wedding guests and wagon loads of food supplies stretched three miles from Kaitaia to Pukepoto. Both Riapo and his father Timoti led a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the 1890s and 1900s to regain ownership of the Tangone swamp, which they claimed the Crown had not acquired legally. Riapo Puhipi attended the Māori Congress in Wellington in 1908, when he was described as: a well-known chief, connecting in his person three main tribes — Ngapuhi, Rarawa and Aupouri (who live at the North Cape). He has more than once opposed Mr Heke in Parliamentary elections. He is one of the Maori sanitary inspectors and a lay representative of the Northern Maori district in the Auckland Diocesan Synod.

The appointment of Māori health Inspectors was an initiative by Dr Maui Pomare (1875/1876? – 1930) to improve health amongst especially rural Māori. Riapo Puhipi appears in a photo of Native Health Officers in an article about them in 1909. Puhipi was an unsuccessful candidate for Northern Māori in the general elections in 1901, 1911 and 1914.

The Minister of Defence James Allen acknowledged Busby’s letter and asked to be advised of the proposed date for the unveiling. Busby sent him a telegram acknowledging that letter and saying: ‘Decided unveiling ceremony take place 24th March.’ Busby wrote again to the Minister of Defence on 26 February 1916, having received a letter of refusal from the Postmaster General to make a site available at the Post Office. He said: ‘I am glad to say we have obtain (sic) another suitable site 4 or 5 chains apart from P. Office Kaitaia a gift which was offered for the purpose by Mr Allen Bell, for which we thanks [sic] the gentleman very much indeed.’ He continued ’the date for the unveiling would be on the 24th March, and always anxious to know if His Excellency or any of the Ministers, more especially yourself…to be present. Allen sent a telegram saying that he regretted his inability to attend, but understood Hon Dr Pomare would represent the Government. Pomare was a Minister without portfolio in the Massey government of the time. Given the Government’s refusal to provide a site, Busby proceeded to make arrangements on the site donated by Colonel Bell, though this was not as central as Busby had wished.

Riapo Puhipi’s son Haimona was serving in the New Zealand armed forces overseas at this time. 16/315 Private Haimona Busby enlisted in A Company of the First Maori Contingent on 13 November 1914, and sailed on HMNZT Warrimoo on 14 February 1915. In June 1916 he transferred to the NZ Field Artillery. In May 1917 he returned to New Zealand and in June 1917 he was discharged as medically unfit, due to the fact that he had a congenital cataract meaning he was blind in one eye. This was assessed as being a pre-existing condition that had been exacerbated by his military service.

Riapo Puhipi also had a younger brother, Tawhai Puhipi, who died in March 1915 having just volunteered to join the Native Expeditionary Force.

There has lately been an unfortunate epidemic of typhoid fever in the Whangape district, which resulted in several deaths…The unfortunate epidemic has resulted in several deaths. The younger son of Mrs Timoti Busby, of Pukepoto, who volunteered for active service with the Native Expeditionary Force, died in the Auckland hospital from enteric fever. By special permission the body was brought back and buried in the Pukepoto cemetery. Tawhai Puhipi’s grave at Pukepoto is cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Making the Memorial

While this correspondence with the Government was in train, Riapo Puhipi was also making arrangements for the erection of the memorial. The letter books of the Auckland monumental masons McNab and Mason contain outwards correspondence to Mr L. Busby of Pukepoto, but sadly with one notable exception the inwards correspondence does not seem to have survived. On 24 December 1915, McNab and Mason wrote to Mr L Busby, Pukepoto, ‘Dear Sir, Many thanks for your order, which shall have our best attention. Enclosed find receipt. We shall advise you when shipping. We have set the work in hand’.

On 17th January 1916, McNab and Mason wrote to Busby acknowledging his order for ‘No. 103 Italian Marble Monument & Bluestone Base 12’ 0” x 3’ 2”.’ They said ‘We can supply it by the required date but must have the inscription at once to enable us to do so. If you could keep the unveiling ceremony back for a week or two it would suit us better. Could you not find out from the Minister whether March or April would suit him best… When you send us the inscription we will send the complete cost, Monument, Inscription and Freight.’ Leopold Busby replied, in the one letter from him that has been preserved in the McNab and Mason papers.


29th Jan 1916

McNab & Mason Esqrs

Monumental. Auckland

Dear Sir

I on behalf of my people wish to thank you very much for the cordial and respectable manner you have favoured us, for the great donation you have offered for the Memorial Fund, and may God bless you.

I have enclosed a copy to the “Inscription” written in Maori and in English, and it was ended by a chorus to a hymn which they sang last before leaving this country or birth-place, sorry to say that most of those dear boys which sang that very hymn have passed away, fallen in that terriable [sic] war. In regards to total number re inscription letters, probably comes to about 90 doz. may be more or less, we prefer also the 4/- per doz. letters. As to the Monument already picked No 103 page 22. The Maoris are very much delighted with it, when they saw the picture of it, shows in Catalogue, including the whole column, they make enquiry also in the price. I told them what I notice in the price list according to aboved [sic] No. 103 were £75 kindly correct me if I have made mistakes in stating to that price. In conclusion I wish to say, anything you might think we can do, such as preparing sands etc. to get them ready on the spot before the monument arrive and ready to be put up, kindly notify. I have informed Minister Defence unveiling ceremony take place 24th March. We also having the pleasure in asking you & yours to be present at the unveiling ceremony.

I remain Sir

Yours Faithfully

L. Busby

In response, McNab and Mason sent a telegram to him saying ‘Could complete by suggested date’. That day they also sent an urgent cable to Oreste Vanelli, monumentalist, Carrara, Italy ‘ship base and die one hundred and three urgent’. It seems unlikely this was the order for the Kaitaia angel, but may well have been an order to replace the statue in their stock. Clearly angel 103 was in demand by McNab and Mason’s clients. Their order book for 18 January 1916 contains an order to Oreste Vanelli, Marble Merchant, Carrara, Italy, ‘Kindly ship as early as possible Die and base of no 103 page no 22 of your catalogue. Sizes as under… We are not at all satisfied with the no 103 Monument just received as you have not adhered to the sizes neither is the material or workmanship up to your usual standard. Prompt despatch will oblige.’

McNab and Mason had ordered from Oreste Vanelli in Carrara a five foot figure of no 103 on 6 September 1915, and it seems likely that was the statue supplied to Busby. Italy was a British ally during World War One, but the perils of shipping marble monuments through hostile seas does not seem to have been an issue. It is not possible to establish clearly, but if work had been ‘set in hand’ on the Kaitaia angel on 24th December 1915, then presumably it is not the one of below standard material and workmanship received in January 1916.

On 8th February McNab and Mason acknowledged receipt from Busby of the text for the inscription, saying ‘we have it already in hand as it will take a long while to inscribe’. The letter also contains the price of £75 for the monument, £8 for the inscription and an estimate of £6 for freight. Instructions are given for the obtaining of the 4 thirty foot long kauri rickers required for the erection of the monument. McNab and Mason price lists in their papers list ‘no 103’ at £75, and also quote ‘imperishable lead letters extra at 4/- per dozen letters’. Since the inscription contains 975 letters, the price quoted for the inscription represents a fifty percent discount on the usual price.

McNab and Mason were concerned about the appearance of the memorial. They wrote ‘As it is a Public Memorial & you will not want it to look like a Tombstone we will suggest it be erected on a step concrete foundation with an iron railing on the lowest step to keep children off.’ Acknowledging this would mean extra expense, and after discussing the possibility of getting concessionary freight rates, they concluded ‘the complete cost might be up to £112’. Busby must have accepted, since they acknowledge his acceptance on 23 February, by which date the inscription is finished.

The firm’s concern over the appearance of the monument was probably occasioned by the fact that they had supplied quite a number of ‘No 103 angels’ as monuments to cemeteries in Auckland and elsewhere. Several angels of this type may still be seen on graves dating from the first decade of the 20th century in the Waikaraka cemetery at Onehunga, for example, and the firm’s order books show a number of orders for ‘No. 103’ from Carrara. The Waikaraka cemetery grave of Benjamin Dyson (died 29 December 1906), which has a ‘No 103 angel’, is illustrated in a McNab and Mason advertisement. Another example is in the cemetery of Rīpeka Tapu church at Waiparera in the Hokianga (NZ Historic Places Trust Register no. 445). Busby was probably personally familiar with this example, and may indeed have commissioned it for Rīpeka Tapu.

The correspondence concludes with detailed discussion of freight and the practicalities of erecting the monument. McNab and Mason sent their own staff member to Kaitaia to oversee the installation, but they forgot to supply him with the firm’s name plate to attach to the memorial, since they had to post that separately on 14 March. They did not charge for this man’s time, and met his expenses themselves, which they estimated represented a donation towards the cost of about £10.

McNab and Mason may not have considered the angel used at Kaitaia a suitable figure for a war memorial, since they enquired of Oreste Vanelli on 20 July 1917, ‘If you can supply any large Memorial designs suitable for War Memorials, do so, as there is going to be a good demand for monuments costing from £50 to £175. Give us a rough quote to work on for full size soldier statues with and without portrait faces. We have an order for one and there are other enquiries.’

Unveiling the Memorial

The monument was unveiled on its site south of Kaitaia town centre, donated by Colonel Bell, on 24 March 1916. A detailed account of the unveiling ceremony, with what appear to be verbatim transcripts of several speeches, appeared in one Northland newspaper, with briefer references elsewhere. The Northern Luminary correspondent estimated that there were 1,000 people at the ceremony. The wonderfully detailed photograph taken by the Northwood brothers during the ceremony portrays the richness of the event. At the left on a flagstaff flies the New Zealand Red Ensign and a Taranaki Māori flag, presumably in honour of the visit of Dr Pomare. A uniformed guard of honour is assembled, with others in military uniform scattered amongst the crowd that throngs around the memorial listening to Maui Pomare speaking. Three clergymen stand behind him. The Mangamuka Brass bandsmen hold their instruments at the ready. Many ladies, including those seated on horseback for a better view, wear fashionable white bonnets with veils and white blouses, while black is worn by other women. Men’s attire varies from very formal, be it uniform or suit and tie, to quite casual, in shirtsleeves and braces. Some, both men and women, shade their heads from the summer sun with hat or umbrella. What is perhaps Colonel Allen’s car, with its uniformed chauffeur, provides a platform for some spectators, while others lean on crutches or a tokotoko. The crowd includes Māori and Pākehā, old and young, rich and poor, a photographer, several babes in arms, a possibly bored schoolboy. It seems that all Kaitaia was there.

County Councillor Holder chaired the occasion, welcoming Dr Maui Pomare, representing the Government, and Tau Henare, Member of Parliament for Northern Maori. Tau Henare noted that this was ‘one of the first monuments to be erected in the Dominion in honour of men who have sacrificed their lives for you and for me, for their country, for the Empire and for the King… I would like my pakeha friends to remember this, that our boys left New Zealand like brothers from the one country to fight side by side to uphold the Union Jack.’ Dr Pomare read out a telegram from Prime Minister Massey, which said: I have learned with a feeling of great pleasure and interest that a monument to the memory of our brave soldier sons from your district who have fallen at Gallipoli is to be unveiled today. The Maori race in common with their pakeha brothers have taken up arms for their King and Empire in this great war against the enemies of liberty and freedom; and have carved out a record of imperishable military valour on the battlefields of Anzac. The Maori Contingents have proved themselves brave and worthy descendants of the warrior ancestors and many have laid down their lives as soldiers of the King. For the brave who have fallen we grieve, and our hearts go out in sympathy to their parents and relations, but if we are to win in this great war (as I am certain we shall) we must continue to do our best in sending our share of men and helping our comrades who are now at the front. The Maori race has responded nobly to the Empire’s call, but more men are needed, and speaking as Prime Minister of the Dominion and as head of the Government, I earnestly appeal to the Chiefs of the Maori people to do their utmost to keep up the supply of reinforcements which are so necessary at this juncture. I feel confident that the appeal will not be made in vain and that a ready response will be made by the young men of the Maori race.

Pomare then spoke to the assembled crowd in Māori, which was not transcribed in the newspaper, and then to the Pākehā in his audience, in a speech which canvassed the Treaty of Waitangi, the British Empire, the Germans, Hone Heke, the Boers, the Irish, but above all the need for more men to enlist and for further sacrifice. He said: ‘And we in New Zealand – the Maoris, your enemies of yesterday, are your friends of today, and your companions-in-arms of tomorrow. What greater example of British unity; what greater example of fealty could be asked – fighting for the same King and Empire…Now, I want to say this both to Pakehas and Maoris. What are we going to do? This is your only chance to do your little bit…’

Sadly, given the bilingual and explicitly bicultural nature of the memorial and the sentiment of its inscription, and the obviously bicultural crowd at the unveiling, all the newspaper reporting refers to this as the ‘Māori memorial’, and describes it as commemorating Māori dead. That view of the memorial persisted in Kaitaia for a long time afterwards. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Riapo Puhipi invited all those present to a hakari at his marae at Pukepoto, four miles from Kaitaia’.

Subsequent Development

After World War One, former servicemen from Kaitaia set out to establish a Returned Soldiers Association, and raise funds for a hall to meet in. By 1922, the sum of £750 pounds had been raised, but the local community had no enthusiasm to match these funds. Following long dissension in Mangonui County, which encompassed Kaitaia, over whether hospital services should be based in Mangonui or in Kaitaia, a small hospital for maternity and emergency cases was opened in Kaitaia in 1927. The RSA agreed to contribute the funds it had raised, and in order to attract a Government subsidy for war memorials, it was agreed that the new hospital would be called the Kaitaia Memorial Hospital. A bronze plaque was placed in the hospital foyer, and was transferred to the new replacement hospital when the memorial hospital was demolished in 1970. However, subsequent development meant that the plaque was languishing in a workshop in July 2010.

After World War Two, it was agreed to establish a Shrine of Memories and Memorial swimming baths in Bank Street, closer to the centre of Kaitaia, about 1 kilometre from the World War One memorial. The first ANZAC Day parade was held at the new site on 25 August 1953, but it seems that prior to that ANZAC Day observances were not held at the ‘angel memorial’, which seems to have been perceived as a ‘Māori memorial’, in spite of its explicitly bicultural inscription. Newspaper accounts indicate that ANZAC Day services were held at other places in Kaitaia. Photographs taken in the late 1950s show the World War One memorial to be in good condition, but still standing in its original rather overgrown paddock on the edge of the town. However, in the mid-1960s the World War One memorial was relocated adjacent to the World War Two memorial to form a single complex. The purpose-built plinth designed for the statue by the Borough engineer still stands near the swimming baths. However, both monuments were relocated in 1995 to a site opposite the RSA clubrooms, to form ‘Remembrance Park’. Here both World War One and World War two memorials are incorporated together as a single memorial, with plaques also commemorating the campaigns in South Africa, Korea, Malaya - Borneo, and Vietnam. This has become the location for the observance of ANZAC Day in Kaitaia.

Physical Description

The Kaitaia War Memorial is today situated in Remembrance Park, Kaitaia, on the corner of Melba Street and Matthews Avenue, diagonally across the road from the Assembly Hall and Clubrooms of the Far North (Kaitaia) Returned and Services Association Inc. The World War One memorial monument was originally erected near what is now the corner of Allen Bell Drive and Commerce Street, Kaitaia, and was moved in the 1960s to stand near the World War Two Shrine of Memories and memorial swimming baths in Bank Street, before both memorials were relocated to Remembrance Park in 1995 and incorporated into one memorial.

When it was erected in 1916, the Kaitaia War Memorial consisted of a statue of an angel approximately the height of an adult human, sculpted in Italian marble from the Carrara marble quarries, standing on a square sculpted Carrara marble plinth. This stood on a square bluestone base, set on a step concrete foundation, consisting of a square concrete base, standing on a further concrete base to form two steps around the monument. Around the bottom step were two iron railings, supported by decorative iron brackets at the four corners and in the centres. The name plate of the monumental masons McNab and Mason was set into the front face of the upper concrete step, behind the railing.

The sculpted figure shows a winged angel in a flowing ankle-length robe, with an apron or cloak around its shoulders. Resting on the left hip and supported by the left arm is a basket of flowers, with a fold of the cloak held in the left hand. The lower part of the fold has been broken off. The right arm, which is now missing, was extended out and raised above the right shoulder, holding a leaf and flowers, presumably in the act of strewing these on the ground. A five pointed star, also now missing, was set in the parting of the hair above the centre of the figure’s forehead. The eyes are downcast and the face has a mournful appearance. The details of the weaving of the cloak and the feathers on the wings are finely sculpted. The feet are bare, set as if taking a step forward with the left leg, rising from a cloud like form atop the square base of the figure.

The figure is set on top of a square plinth, with moulded detail above a sculpted lace ‘altar cloth’. This is ornamented on the front face with a posy of varied flowers. Each face is then set with a bordered ‘shield’ containing the inscription. This was provided by Busby in his letter of 29 January 1916.

Whilst it is not certain who wrote the inscription in Māori and English, it was provided by Riapo Puhipi, and it seems most likely that he is the author. The inscription is remarkable and probably unique on a New Zealand war memorial in being fully bilingual in Māori and English, bicultural in its embracing the service and sacrifice of both Māori and Pākehā, the living and the dead from Mangonui County, and poetic in its locally composed languages. The text reads: He tohu whakamaharatanga tenei mo a matou tamariki whanaunga hoki. nga mea kua mate ngā mea e ora ana Maori Pakeha, o roto i te kaute o Mangonui nei kaore nei ratou i ruarua ki te tapae whakarere i o ratou tinana hei mea e awhina ai ratou i te Kingi, i te Emepaea i te Kororia hoki o te Atua i roto i tenei pakanga whakawehi i ara nei ki nga takiwa o Oropi i te marama o Akuhata, 1914, horopa atu ana inaianei ki nga topito o te ao. Kauria e te whanau nga ngaru to a tea o Te Moana-Nui a Kiwa. Hapainga te ingoa toa o koutou tupuna rapua he utu mo o koutou whanaunga kua hinga Ka whakatau Te Atua i te wikitoria ki te taha tika

In loving memory and in honour of our sons and relations both Maori and Pakeha, dead or living from the county of Mangonui who willingly offered themselves to sacrifice their lives to uphold the honour of the King and Empire and for the Glory of God in this terrible war which began in Europe in August 1914, and has since spread over the greater part of the world. Splashing through the mountainous waves of the Indian Ocean our brave lads uphold the names of your noble ancestors: seek to avenge the deaths of your relations that have fallen. God will give victory to the righteous.


Haere tonu Mangonui, haere tonu ra

Haere tonu Mangonui, fight for your King

Haere tonu Mangonui, haere tonu ra

Ake ake kia kaha haere tonu ra

This inscription was set into the marble plinth in lead lettering. Many of the individual letters have since fallen out, but the wording may still be made out quite clearly.

In its current site in Remembrance Park, Kaitaia, the marble angel still stands atop the square plinth with the inscriptions, facing generally north. It forms the centrepiece of a curved green slate wall, into which are set, on the eastern side, bronze plaques with the 81 names of those from the former Mangonui county who died in World War One. Tawhai Busby’s name is not listed. On the western side are three similar plaques with the 81 names of those from the former Mangonui county who died in World War Two. In both cases the names are grouped by local geographic community. It is a curious circumstance that there should be 81 names for each conflict. Two galvanised pipe flagstaffs are set one each side near the ends of the curved wall. A free standing wooden flagpole stands at the western end of the wall.

In front of the circular wall is a rectangular platform faced with the same green slate, on which is set a concrete ‘Altar of Sacrifice’, topped by a bronze sword, in the general form established by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. On the north side of the altar are the words ‘THE GLORIOUS DEAD’ over a bronze wreath, on each side of which are the dates ‘1914 – 1918’ and ‘1939 – 1945’. Placed against the base of the altar are three bronze plaques, with the words ‘SOUTH AFRICA KOREA’ and ‘MALAYA – BORNEO VIETNAM’.

The memorial as it currently exists incorporates elements from a range of periods. The marble angel and plinth were the original World War One memorial, the Altar of Sacrifice with its inscription and date plaques derives from the World War Two memorial constructed in 1953, while the slate wall and base and the plaques for South Africa and the later conflicts date from the relocation of the memorials to Remembrance Park in 1993. Far North District Council and the R.S.A. in Kaitaia have maintained and developed Remembrance Park since its creation in 1993, with the Council as the landowner accepting responsibility for ongoing maintenance and upkeep.

Comparative Analysis

The Kaitaia War Memorial has been described in a number of authoritative sources as being the first Great War Memorial to be erected in New Zealand. However, that is not the case.

On 14 July 1915, at the invitation of the Eastbourne Beautifying Society, the Mayor of Eastbourne planted two pohutukawa in Rata Street ‘in commemoration of the brave deeds done by our soldiers in Gallipoli’. The children of the juvenile branch of the Society then completed the planting of Rata Road with pohutukawa. A plaque was later erected and the trees were especially cared for in their early years by the juvenile branch. The plaque reads:







These trees, of which only one of the original two now survives, are believed to be the earliest World War One memorial in New Zealand.

In September 1915, the Auckland Harbour Board resolved to erect a memorial and place on it for posterity the names of those Harbour Board employees who went off to serve in the war. The memorial was ‘an obelisk erected on a base of five tiers of steps of unpolished Coromandel granite. This is surmounted by a square solid block of granite, polished, and above is a shaft of the same material beautifully finished. Above this is an artistic twisted metal support, on top of which is a red globe, which at night time will show a light.’ The beacon was first illuminated on 17 December 1915, though there was no formal ceremony to mark its erection. This monument was probably the earliest World War One memorial monument to be erected in New Zealand, though it has been substantially altered subsequently.

There was also an early instance of a natural feature being given the name of ANZAC. In January 1916, the Katikati Domain Board resolved to change the name of St George’s Bay, Katikati, at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour, to Anzac Bay, because of the physical similarity of the bay to ANZAC Cove.

Mr Geo. [Vesey] Stewart, chairman of the Domain Board, in a happy speech declared the jetty and shed opened and conferred the name of Anzac upon the bay. The Bay, said Mr Stewart would stand as an everlasting monument to the brave Australian and New Zealand boys who landed at Anzac.

Apart from this natural feature, as far as can be ascertained, the Kaitaia memorial is therefore the third World War One memorial and the second World War One memorial monument in New Zealand. Because the Auckland Harbour Board memorial monument was not unveiled or dedicated with any ceremony, the unveiling of the Kaitaia War Memorial on 24 March 1916 represents the first unveiling of a war memorial monument in New Zealand.

The Kaitaia War Memorial was an initiative of Te Rarawa, and specifically of one of their leaders Riapo Puhipi (Leopold Busby). However, it is explicitly a memorial to both Māori and Pākehā, unlike other war memorials erected as Maori initiatives. These include the 1925 Māori War Memorial in Whanganui (NZHPT Register 4954 Category II), the 1926 St Mary’s Anglican Church, Tikitiki (NZHPT Register 3306 Category I) and the 1927 Arawa Soldier Memorial, Rotorua (NZHPT Register 7015 Rotorua Government Gardens Historic Area).

Whilst some other war memorials incorporate text in Te Reo Māori, the Kaitaia War Memorial is believed to be the only World War One memorial that is completely bilingual in English and Te Reo Māori (with the exception of the rather curious ‘chorus’ which uses both languages).

Dr Jock Phillips, a leading historian of New Zealand’s war memorials has written of the Kaitaia memorial: I always thought that one of the most remarkable facts about the Kaitaia memorial is the poetic nature of the inscription. I know of no other memorial that is quite so evocative. Virtually all other inscriptions followed established texts - biblical or British poets etc. The home-grown rhetoric of the Kaitaia one is really striking.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1916 -
Erection and unveiling of Kaitaia World War One war memorial

1953 -
Erection and unveiling of Kaitaia World War Two war memorial

1960 - 1969
Relocation of World War One war memorial to adjoin World War Two war memorial

1993 -
Relocation of both memorials to current location in Remembrance Park

Construction Details

Carrara marble, concrete, concrete block, slate (formerly also granite).

Completion Date

19th October 2012

Report Written By

Stuart Park

Information Sources

MacLean, 1990

Chris MacLean and Jock Phillips, The Sorrow and the Pride: New Zealand War Memorials, Wellington, 1990

Waitangi Tribunal

Waitangi Tribunal Report, www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz

Muriwhenua Land Report, Wellington, 1997

Keene, 1989

Keene, F., Kaitaia and Its People, Whangarei, 1989

Cowan, 2011

J. Cowan, Māori in the Great War, Christchurch, 2011

Foster, 2000

Foster, R., In Retrospect; a history of Far North (Kaitaia) RSA Inc (formerly Mangonui County RSA Inc 1918 – 2000, Kaitaia, 2000

Keene, 1995

Keene, F., Down the O’Donnell, Davis, Matthews Ladder, Whangarei, 1995

Maclean, 1990

Maclean, C., ‘Legacy of War’ in Historic Places, September 1990

McConnell, 1993

McConnell, R., Taua of Kareponia: leader from the North, Hamilton, 1993

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the Northland Office of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.