Troopers’ Memorial

Memorial Avenue, King Street And Catherine Street, Timaru

  • Troopers’ Memorial, Timaru. Also known as the Boer War Memorial.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Milly Woods. Date: 4/04/2018.
  • Troopers’ Memorial, Timaru.
    Copyright: Timaru District Council. Date: 1/03/2008.
  • Troopers’ Memorial, Timaru. February 1993. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Pam Wilson.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 2046 Date Entered 23rd June 1983

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Legal Road, Canterbury Land District and the structure known as the Troopers’ Memorial thereon. Refer to the map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 31 May 2018.

City/District Council

Timaru District

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

Legal Road, Canterbury Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Troopers’ Memorial situated on a triangle of land between Memorial Avenue, King Street and Catherine Street, in Timaru was first erected in 1905 on High and King Streets by the inhabitants of Timaru and district to the memory of those soldiers who died in action or from wounds or disease during the South African (Boer) War 1899-1902. The memorial is an Italian sculpted marble statue of a trooper standing on a tall granite plinth. It has historical, cultural, social and aesthetic significance or value.

The South African War, also known as the Boer War, began in 1899 and was the first war to which New Zealand sent soldiers to fight overseas. It was seen as an opportunity for New Zealand to show its loyalty to Britain, and to show off its strong and adaptable soldiers. Over the three years of the war, between 1899 and 1902, New Zealand sent ten contingents, a total of about 6,500 soldiers. Of these, the losses were not great - 228 died, well over half from disease – and the overwhelming feelings of national pride and imperial loyalty were subsequently borne out in memorials around the country to this conflict. The citizens of Timaru were very active in suggesting suitable locations and contributing funds for the monument. Twenty two designs were considered. Ultimately, a design submitted by local stonemason, S McBride, was chosen. Italian sculptors provided the marble statue, based on a photograph of a trooper in full rig. McBride was the contractor and prepared the granite base. By late October 1904 the public was invited to see the work of art on show at his yard in Sophia Street. When the Troopers’ Memorial was unveiled, in front of a large crowd, on 23 February 1905, its location was on a triangle of land on the corner of High and King Streets. While flags flew at half-mast and the last post was played, Imperial sentiments appear to have overridden mourning or sympathy and there was bunting and flags and an atmosphere of joy and enthusiasm.

As is characteristic of many South African/Boer War memorials in New Zealand, the Timaru memorial features a male trooper wearing a slouch hat, at ease with rifle pointing down. The main base is polished granite, with Corinthian columns set into the corners, and each of its four panels is inscribed. The north panel inscription states ‘THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECTED BY THE INHABITANTS OF TIMARU AND DISTRICTS TO THE MEMORY OF THEIR SOLDIER SONS WHO DIED IN ACTION OR FROM WOUNDS OR DISEASE DURING THE BOER WAR 1899-1902. THEY DESERVE WELL OF THEIR COUNTRY’. The east and west panels list 28 names and their status and contingent. On the south panel it states ‘THIS TABLET BEARS THE NAMES OF THE MEN WHO SERVED IN SOUTH AFRICA AND WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919’ and lists 12 names, their status and reinforcement.

For some years after the cessation of the war, the memorial was the focus of remembrance services. It is considered that the various Boer War monuments around the country were at least a small factor in encouraging New Zealand men to believe that their destiny lay in fighting Britain’s wars, volunteering themselves in great numbers in 1914 at the outbreak of the Great War (First World War). The inscription on the south panel of the Troopers’ Memorial, identifying those from the district who not only served in the South African War of the turn of the twentieth century but who also then went on to serve and die in the First World War, was added in circa 1919. The Troopers’ Memorial was later shifted to its present site on Memorial Avenue, possibly around 1926, and there is now a gentle grassy slope where previously there were steps.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

S Mcbride

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Unnamed Italian Sculptors

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Addition
-
Inscriptions added on south panel

Modification
-
Lower steps filled over and grassed

Relocation
1926 -
Memorial shifted to triangle of land between Memorial Avenue, King Street and Catherine Street

Original Construction
1904 - 1905
Memorial constructed and erected on triangle of land on High and King Streets

Completion Date

26th April 2018

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Maclean and Phillips, 1990

Chris Maclean and Jock Phillips, The Sorrow and the Pride: New Zealand War Memorials, Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1990

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Southern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand