Queen Victoria Memorial Statue
Queens Gardens, Dunedin
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Able to Visit
2nd July 1982
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Blk XLV Town of Dunedin (CT OT79/189), Otago Land District, and the Queen Victoria Statue thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 31 May 2018.
Pt Blk XLV Town of Dunedin (CT OT79/189), Otago Land District
The Queen Victoria Memorial Statue, commissioned after the monarch’s death in 1901 and unveiled in 1905 was designed by English sculptor Herbert Hampton. The memorial honours Victoria’s reign and has given its name to the Queen’s Gardens in which she sits. The statue has aesthetic, historic and cultural value.
Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901 bringing to a close her 63-year reign. In March 1901 Dunedin’s mayor presided over a public meeting to consider ‘the best means of perpetuating the memory’ of the late queen. Debate centred on the relative merits of a free public library or a statue. The meeting voted in favour of a statue as the most fitting monument to memory, rather than a library ‘the utilitarian spirit of which commemorated the departed by making a nice present to itself’. As to the selection of the site, the Queen’s Memorial Statue Fund Executive wrote asking the council suggesting for a portion of the Triangle, close to the intersection of Crawford and High Streets. By June 1901, the excavations of the foundations were underway.
The foundation stone was laid by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, during a visit to Dunedin, 27 June 1901. President of the Queen Victoria Memorial Committee, Sir Henry Miller, told the gathering that the purpose of the statue was threefold:
‘It will be an ornament to the city of Dunedin; it will be always associated with the visit of your Royal Highnesses to this distant part of the Empire…. And it will remind us and the children who come after us how nobly, during nearly 64 years, Queen Victoria accomplished the great work which was committed to her hands.’
His Highness replied ‘we are glad to be thus united with you in doing honour to the memory of her who, during a reign unparalleled in history, ever strove for the welfare and prosperity of her people. We are right to perpetuate that memory by the highest powers of the sculptor’s mind and hand. May not each of us also strive to raise up in our hearts, and indeed, in the heart of the nation, an ideal based upon the noble example of her life?’
In October 1901 it was announced that the English sculptor Herbert Hampton had been commissioned to execute the design of the marble figure and the pedestal at the cost of £3,000.
On 25 March 1905 – also the 57th anniversary of the founding of the province of Otago – the statue was unveiled by the governor of New Zealand, Lord Plunket before an audience of 10,000 people. The statue depicts the robed and crowned queen flanked by the bronze female figures of Wisdom and Justice. Victoria holds the Sovereign’s Orb (symbolising Godly power and the monarch as God’s representative on earth) and the Sovereign’s Sceptre (representing the temporal power of the monarch, associated with good governance). The 8 feet 6 inches high statue stands on a 12 foot bluestone pedestal.
For Dunedin, the statue symbolised its own significance over rival provinces, as well as the cause of Empire in the context of the recruiting drive for the South African War, and after its unveiling, ‘more sombrely’ the commemoration of those killed in that conflict. As a representation of Empire it has been subject to vandalism. In 1995 the statue was splashed with red paint, and several pieces of the statue were broken off. The memorial has also been damaged by graffiti more than once, and pieces were broken off again in 2015. In 2018, the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue still stands in what has become known as the Queen’s Gardens.
British sculptor and artist Herbert Hampton (1862-1929) was educated at Cardiff School of Art, Lambeth School of Art, Westminster School of Art, the Slade and then the Académies Julien and Colarossi, Paris. He exhibited 55 sculptures at the Royal Academy between 1889 and 1927. He was known as a successful creator of public memorials – he created six statues of Queen Victoria, one of Edward VII and one of King George.
His two New Zealand works are the Queen Victoria statue in Dunedin, and the statue of William Rolleston (List No. 1946, Category 2) in Christchurch.
foundation stone laid
1st May 2018
Report Written By
18 Mar 1905, p. 8.
Otago Witness, 03 Jul 1901, p. 27.
Dunn, Michael, New Zealand Sculpture: A History, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2002.
Otago Sculpture Trust
Richard Dingwall, “Queen Victoria (Queens gardens): 1905”. Otago Sculpture Trust, http://www.ost-sculpture.org.nz/press/279/
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 Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand