Coronation Memorial Fountain

The Square, Palmerston North

  • Coronation Memorial Fountain.
    Copyright: Palmerston North City Council.
  • Coronation Memorial Fountain.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Elise Meyrick. Date: 1/07/2012.
  • Coronation Memorial Fountain. Photographer unknown. Man walking dogs in the central portion of The Square, c.1910. Image courtesy of the Palmerston North City Library 2007N_Sq41_SQU_0454.
    Copyright: Palmerston North City Library.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 1258 Date Entered 2nd July 1982


City/District Council

Palmerston North City


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region


The fountain in the Palmerston North Square was constructed in 1902 to commemorate both the Coronation of King Edward VII and the twenty fifth anniversary of the incorporation of the Borough of Palmerston North. It was placed in the central area of The Square, which was the focal point of the town. The monument is commonly known as the ‘Coronation Memorial’ and was originally designed as a ‘spray and drinking’ fountain that may have included a dog drinking fountain and cups hung from the bowl on chains to drink from.

Celebration of King Edward’s rise to the throne was marked by the erection of a number of coronation memorials throughout the country, including a lamp in Arrowtown and a sea wall in Auckland; this being the first event of its kind to have occurred since the foundation of New Zealand as a British colony. The trend continued as monuments were constructed to commemorate the coronation of King George V in 1911. The monument was designed by Napier architect C.A Vautier and carved by Palmerston North mason Samuel Dowdall. Dowdall was for a time the only monumental mason between Wellington and Whanganui and would continue in his career to contribute to the Te Peeti Awe Awe monument, also in The Square. It is of a Gothic design, featuring a small spire, with buttresses at the base, tre-foil relief and crockets at the corners. A shallow basin extended the circumference of the fountain, into which the carved lion heads spouted water. It is constructed from Oamaru stone. The foundation stone was laid on the 11th of August 1902 by Mayor W.T Wood, witnessed by a large concourse of people. Three inscripted stones honour the coronation and borough celebrations, a further stone commemorates the proclamation of Palmerston North as a city in 1930.

It was moved in 1925-6 from the centre of The Square to the West quadrant. This move was to accommodate the War Memorial and changes to the Railway line. The original base consisting of a series of three octagonal steps was destroyed including four carved bluestone blocks which anchored the fountain to the steps. The monument functioned in this space until 1990 when the water was turned off and the fountain dish and associated pond and were planted as gardens. During the 2005 ‘City Heart’ restructuring of The Square, the Coronation Memorial was moved again, into the North quadrant of The Square. This move allowed for the memorial to be reinstated with its original design feature of the octagonal base steps. Restoration of the monument was also undertaken by sculptor and fountain restorer Mark Whyte who replaced the spire crown and some floral embellishments. He also had the remaining paint removed and carved new steps from Timaru bluestone. It is currently again a functioning fountain.

The Coronation Memorial is a good representative design using appropriate materials. The fountain is an excellent example of stonework and is of aesthetic significance for its design. The Memorial is of historical significance as a coronation memorial and for its commemoration of twenty five years since Palmerston North was incorporated as a borough. It holds patriotic significance as it symbolises New Zealand’s ties to the British Royalty and the celebration of local achievements.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Dowdall, Samuel

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Vautier, C A

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Dowdall, James Thomas

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1902 -
Constructed (Centre of The Square)

1925 - 1926
Moved to West quadrant

2005 -
Moved to North quadrant

Completion Date

31st July 2012

Report Written By

Elise Meyrick

Information Sources

Manawatu Evening Standard

Manawatu Evening Standard

11 August 1902, p.4 ; Helen Harvey, Manawatu Standard, ‘Facelift for the Coronation Fountain,’ 22 September 2005, p.3

Other Information

A referenced version of this report is available from the Central Region office of the NZHPT.

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.