ANZAC Memorial Bridge

State Highway 2, Kaiparoro

  • ANZAC Memorial Bridge. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 17/11/2013.
  • ANZAC Memorial Bridge. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Taken By: Shellie Evans - flyingkiwigirl. Date: 17/11/2013.
  • ANZAC Memorial Bridge. Central plaque: World War One Memorial Plaque replica.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 15/10/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 3969 Date Entered 30th April 2010

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Secs 2-3 SO 485058 (NZ Gazette 2016, In1927; In1928), Wellington Land District, and the structure known as ANZAC Memorial Bridge thereon, including its abutments, as shown on the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 2 June 2016.

City/District Council

Tararua District

Region

Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Secs 2-3 SO 485058 (NZ Gazette 2016, In1927; In1928), Wellington Land District.

Location description

Kaiparoro is approximately 8 kilometres south of Eketahuna. There is a tourist sign opposite the W.A. Miller Reserve which indicates it as an access point to 'ANZAC Bridge.' Parking is available at the reserve and a path parallel to the highway leads north to the bridge.

Summaryopen/close

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge, which is located south of Eketahuna at Kaiparoro next to State Highway 2, is a unique structure within New Zealand and was designed by local civil engineer Alfred Falkner (1854-1939). The concrete arch bridge was completed in 1922, mostly due to community efforts, and its memorial plaques were unveiled on ANZAC Day 1923.

Kaiparoro was settled by members of the Wellington Special Settlement Group in the late nineteenth century. Despite railway construction work in the district the northern Wairarapa settlements like this were relatively slow to develop because it was heavily forested. However, by the early twentieth century the population in this farming and milling region was well-established and safe and efficient road travel was a growing concern. The often dangerous ford across the Makakahi River was the last river crossing on the main road through the Wairarapa to be bridged. However, it took a decade of persistent petitioning by local people for the ANZAC Memorial Bridge to be constructed. Over this period World War One had been fought and the loss of six of the area's young men hit Kaiparoro hard. The personal loss of a son and nephew at Gallipoli motivated Falkner to create not only a specific monument to commemorate the individuals, but also to honour ANZACs. For over 30 years the bridge was a landmark along the highway and because of its easily recognisable iconography its message reached a wide audience. However, this one-lane bridge was deviated away from in 1956. Over the next 50 years the structure had several minor periods of community-driven repair and restoration. Then in 2006 the newly formed Friends of ANZAC Memorial Bridge Kaiparoro Incorporated initiated a restoration project which included connecting it to the nearby W.A. Miller Reserve.

As a result of this project the ANZAC Memorial Bridge is accessible by a short riverside walking track from the reserve and rest area. The stark white painted mass concrete structure is a contrast to the surrounding rolling farmland. The bridge is an open spandrel deck arch bridge which has had no major alterations or additions since original construction with the exception of elements pertaining to its memorial function. The bridge features several inscriptions, and plaster, metal, and granite plaques which elucidate its commemorative purpose.

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge has outstanding significance because it is both a monument specifically dedicated to the ANZACs and a post-World War One functional war memorial in the form of a bridge. These aspects are individually rare within New Zealand, and their combination in the ANZAC Memorial Bridge means it is a unique structure. The bridge also has considerable local significance because its construction was the final link in the north Wairarapa highway infrastructure, and was one of the first concrete bridges in the region.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge was completed in 1923 in memory of the people with close ties to Kaiparoro who died in World War One, including the son and nephew of Alfred Falkner, a civil engineer and one of the prominent early European settlers in Kaiparoro area, who designed and oversaw construction of the structure. This commemorative function was later extended to include those who fell in World War Two. Despite debate elsewhere the local people do not seem to have had qualms about their memorial taking the form of a utilitarian structure. The community's dedication to the project, including contributions of funds and also labour, is indicative of the strength of local grief at the loss of these people. As such, this structure is an important reminder of the impact that the World Wars of the twentieth century had on small communities throughout New Zealand. Although not immediately obvious due to initialising her name, the inclusion of Margaret McAnulty, a member of the New Zealand Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, on the memorial also highlights changes in society between the wars which saw more women on active service during World War Two.

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge is not only a memorial to casualties of both World Wars and the wider ANZAC tradition, but it is also a monument to Falkner and W.A. Miller, who had struggled to gain permission and funding for a safe means of crossing the often turbulent Makakahi River for over a decade. The bridge provided local people with reliable passage across the river, and as such was essential to the economy of the area and the community's well-being. Upon completion this structure not only served the local community, but for 30 years was a landmark bridge within the Wairarapa's road infrastructure and an important link in State Highway 2. Therefore, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge is also of historical importance as a remnant of the initial period of growth of road traffic due to motorisation. While it was deviated away from in the 1950s, unlike many of its contemporaries the ANZAC Memorial Bridge survived the mid twentieth century wave of road infrastructure improvements due to it also being a war memorial.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Since its construction the ANZAC Memorial Bridge has gained landmark significance as part of a state highway, and then from the mid twentieth century due to its prominent position next to the road. The structure has aesthetic value because it forms a focal point amidst the surrounding farmland valley and along the course of the Makakahi River due to its gentle arch and the contrast of its concrete construction and stark white colour with the landscape. The plaques and other aspects of the bridge which reveal its commemorative function also have a pleasing decorative simplicity and contribute to the general symmetry of the structure.

Technological Significance or Value

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge was designed by an experienced engineer, Alfred Falkner, who had an intimate knowledge of the requirements needed to withstand the floods of the Makakahi River because he lived next to it. This dictated the use of concrete and the arch form of the structure and it has local technological value as one of the first, and only remaining, concrete bridges in the north Wairarapa.

Social Significance or Value

Because of the relatively small population of the Kaiparoro district everyone in that community had familial or some other connection to people commemorated on the ANZAC Memorial Bridge. This structure was of considerable social importance to the community because it provided a point for people to grieve for, and honour, those buried overseas as well as providing access across the river. As such, local people were committed, and contributed generously, to its construction. Subsequently, the bridge has been a consistent site of general remembrance informally through the recognition of its commemorative function by those who drove over, and later past, it. The bridge also has ongoing importance locally as the site of ANZAC Day ceremonies since 1923.

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

This place is representative of the collective outpouring of grief New Zealanders demonstrated as a result of losses during World War One and Two, which articulated itself in the widespread construction of war memorials around the country.

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

Because of its dedication as an ANZAC memorial and its iconography, this structure is a part of the legacy of events at Gallipoli in 1915 and the subsequent impact it had on the development of New Zealand's national identity.

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

The local community not only fought to have the ANZAC Memorial Bridge built and contributed significantly to its construction, but have continued to use it as the site for their ANZAC Day commemorations, and have subsequently demonstrated their high esteem for it by protesting when it was threatened with demolition, and then through several community driven restoration projects.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge honours the people associated with Kaiparoro who died on active service in World War One and Two, and since 1923 has consistently been the site of ANZAC Day ceremonies. The commemorative nature of the bridge and its position in New Zealand's state highway network has also meant that its message has been recognised by an incalculable number of road travellers since 1923. Therefore, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge has considerable commemorative value.

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

Although World War One and Two memorials are prolific in New Zealand, there are only a few specifically dedicated to the ANZACs. Of this group the ANZAC Memorial Bridge is the only bridge. In itself this is an uncommon form of World War One war memorial nationally due to the perceived incongruity of combining a monument that honoured those who made the extreme sacrifice of giving their lives in service of their country, with a structure that benefited the community.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place.

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge is a rare and special place within New Zealand because it is an unconventional war memorial in several ways. This structure is one of only two notable war memorial bridges in New Zealand that were generated as a result of World War One, because utilitarian commemorative structures were generally frowned upon at the time. However, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge is also the only bridge within a small group of other specifically dedicated ANZAC memorials in New Zealand. This is particularly important because the events at Gallipoli, and the role of the ANZACs in World War One, have been cited as a seminal influence in the development of the national identities of both New Zealand and Australia. The building of the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was motivated by the need of a small community for a bridge as well as a place to commemorate their war dead by the early 1920s. However, its resonances extended far beyond the local because of its visual impact and position along a state highway, accessible iconography, and ANZAC references. As such, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge is a unique place and one of outstanding national significance.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Falkner, Alfred

Engineer: Alfred Falkner (1854-1939)

Born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Falkner trained as a mechanical engineer before immigrating to New Zealand in 1877. In Wellington Falkner took a position with the Lands and Survey Department and later became the chief draughtsman for the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company. In the 1890s Falkner and family moved to Kaiparoro and he ran a large sawmill. Later Falkner designed the Eketahuna water supply system and also the ANZAC Memorial Bridge at Kaiparoro.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The discovery and settlement of the Wairarapa region is connected with several prominent figures of New Zealand's history. Ancestral figures such as Kupe, Toi, Tara, and Hau have all been said to have connections with the region and are responsible for the naming of Wairarapa and its important features and places. It has been estimated that Rangitane settled in the region by about the sixteenth century. Marriage links with Rangitane saw a group of Ngati Kahungunu retreat to the Wairarapa in the subsequent century as the result of internal hapu conflict. The two groups cohabitated mostly in the south Wairarapa for a period, but then the Ngati Kahungunu newcomers negotiated several sections of land for themselves. This process was not seamless and instances of conflict continued between the two iwi over the centuries. The next significant period of change in the area was in the early nineteenth century with the progression of Te Rauparaha and others. This ushered in an era when many different iwi, including Ngati Whatua, Ngati Awa, Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tama, and Ngati Mutunga, made advances into the region and some Ngati Kahungunu hapu withdrew.

European incursion into the Wairarapa only began after the New Zealand Company's Port Nicholson settlement was established. Based on the reports of the exploring and surveying parties that the company sent out, the southern Wairarapa became one of the first extensive tracts of land to be occupied by Europeans, although the Crown titles, negotiated by Donald McLean, were not obtained until 1853. However, it took substantially longer for settlement to progress beyond Masterton, which was linked to Wellington by road in 1859. Further incursion was slow because the northern Wairarapa was heavily forested, as opposed to the south with its relatively clear and large grass plains.

Therefore, while there was some European settlement during this period in the northern Wairarapa, it was not until the road network extended further, and the railway link to Wellington was established, that this area was opened up for settlement to any great extent. In preparation for the construction of the railway the Government had an active role in the establishment of several towns in the Wairapapa. Towns such as Mauriceville, Eketahuna, Norsewood and Dannevirke were all formed as bases for the railway labourers and settled by predominantly Scandinavian immigrants, which under the Immigration and Public Works Act 1870 the Government had a mandate to assist in coming to New Zealand. Areas which the railway was to travel through, such as the Manawatu - Wairarapa No.1 or Eketahuna Block were reserved by the Government under the Railway Act 1871. Part of the preparation for the railway construction included building a road through the district which had progressed by the mid to late 1870s, as had the initial development of the settlements at Mauriceville and Eketahuna.

With the help of the Scandinavian workers, the railway connecting Wairarapa to Wellington and the Palmerston North to Napier line was completed in the closing years of the nineteenth century. This transport access was invaluable for further settlement and the development of the local economy, helping to stimulate the Wairarapa's dairy, sawmilling, and other industries. Kaiparoro, between Mauriceville and Eketahuna, was a small settlement established in 1888 by a group of Wellington residents who called themselves the Wellington Special Settlement Group. At this time the area which became the Kaiparoro settlement was a dense piece of the forest within 70 Mile Bush. Because of the nature of the landscape, when members of this group moved to Kaiparoro it was logical to establish timber milling as an early industry. As such, Kaiparoro soon became characterised by milling, as well as being the rural centre of a predominantly dairy farming area.

Alfred Falkner (1854-1939), who designed the ANZAC Memorial Bridge at Kaiparoro, was notable locally in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as one of the initial European settlers and as the owner of the larger of Kaiparoro's two sawmills. Falkner became a prominent and particularly active member of the local community. Among other roles, he was a member of the first Kaiparoro School Committee in 1894, and was then chairman between 1911 and 1920. In addition Falkner served on the Eketahuna County Council, and this Council, as well as the neighbouring Mauriceville County Council, utilised his engineering training and experience to establish the water supply for Eketahuna, as well as designing bridges and other structures. Earlier in his career Falkner had worked for the Lands and Survey Department, Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, and also undertook other civil engineering projects, such as the design of the Kaiwarra Suspension Bridge, Hurunui River (1911).

Efficient and effective transport infrastructure was important for local industries, and by extension the economy of a district. As such, it was widely recognised before World War One that a road bridge over the Makakahi River at Kaiparoro, on the border between the Eketahuna and Mauriceville County Council's areas, was necessary. Although most long distance travel at this time was done by train, there was a growing importance placed on establishing unimpeded road infrastructure up through the Wairarapa from Wellington, and the Makakahi River at Kaiparoro was the last water crossing still requiring a bridge. Early vehicular traffic was forced to ford the Makakahi River at Kaiparoro, while pedestrian traffic made use of a 'narrow rickety walking swing bridge.' While the road was said to be good in the area, this ford crossing was known to be treacherous when the river was in flood, stranding cars and sometimes causing horses to falter and fall. Because of the relatively high rainfall in the area this flooding is said to have occurred with some frequency, and therefore when ANZAC Memorial Bridge was completed it 'was a great relief.'

Despite the recognition that road traffic in the area was heavy and likely to increase, the building of ANZAC Memorial Bridge involved years of sustained petitioning by local people at both local council and government level. There were lengthy arguments between the Mauriceville and Eketahuna County Councils as to who would pay for a bridge given its position on the boundary of the two Council's areas. Therefore, the bridge project was stalled until these local bodies were finally pressured into reaching an agreement. Eventually, the Mauriceville County Council provided a substantial portion of the funding which was subsidised by money from the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Eketahuna County Council.

Some early PWD plans for the proposed bridge, dating from 1919, were for a timber structure. The use of concrete in bridges was well established in New Zealand by this time and was preferred because of its relative durability, which makes the PWDs idea of using timber surprising because even a steel bridge would have proved more enduring then timber. Despite this apparent PWD preference, by 1920 Falkner had designed the mass concrete bridge, which would later be described as 'small but intriguing.' The timber version proposed by the PWD was typical of other road bridges in the area as Falkner's use of concrete is said to have been a first in the district. It seems likely that it was at this time that the dual function of the structure as a memorial bridge was decided upon. Despite the PWD vetting the plans and contributing funding, the responsibility for building the bridge was delegated to the Mauriceville County Council.

However, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge project at Kaiparoro seems to have been primarily driven by the community for the community. The design was undertaken by Falkner, and he along with W.A. Miller (1872-1951), who was a member of the Mauriceville County Council, were key lobbyists for the structure and then instrumental in it becoming a reality by project managing the build. The advantage of having a local person who had lived next to the river for 30 years design the structure was that Falkner had experienced, and was intensely familiar, with the nature of the Makakahi River and the long term requirements needed for a bridge to withstand its floods. It was this awareness which motivated the arch design of the structure as Falkner, and many other locals, believed it would be hazardous to build a structure like that initially proposed by the PWD, with piers spaced across the river. Such a design would have to withstand the considerable amount of scouring and debris build-up that would occur during floods which increased the possibility of a washout. Therefore Falkner's concrete arch design inspired confidence and it was the preferred choice of the local people and councillors.

Eventually, the first sod for the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was turned on the left bank of the Makakahi River in June 1921, and the wider community was to play an important part in its completion. In order to keep costs down an unskilled labour force was used, consisting of many local men some of whom were returned servicemen. This meant that the women of the area needed to rally to feed the workers, as well as be prepared to add farm and other duties to their regular work in order to compensate for the labour that was shifted to the bridge project. The bridge was finally completed in late November, just in time for the planned opening of the structure on 1 December 1922.

The official opening of the bridge marked the successful culmination of years of struggling by local people to have a bridge built and then their combined effort in its construction. As such, when the first car was driven across the bridge there was significant local fanfare and the celebrations attended by hundreds of people also included a picnic and a ball. However, the commemorative aspect of the bridge was not completed at this time as the enlarged versions of the war memorial medals and plaques that Falkner created using plaster of paris moulds were unfortunately not completed. Therefore, these festivities were followed by a solemn occasion a few months later, on ANZAC Day 1923, when the commemorative plaques on the bridge were unveiled and the bridge dedicated. From the time of this first ANZAC Day commemoration held at the bridge the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was consistently used as the site for local ANZAC Day ceremonies.

New Zealand memorials to those who died in World War One started to be erected while the war was still taking place. As in the case of those commemorated on the ANZAC Memorial Bridge, the men who died during the war were buried overseas. For the majority of their families this meant that a war memorial became a surrogate grave at which they could go through the rituals associated with death in the absence of access to the person's actual burial site. The majority of war memorials were constructed within a decade of the cessation of World War One, and these were primarily in the form of a monument. This was because many felt that functional community structures such as libraries, halls, and bridges, were inappropriate as the community should not benefit when the purpose of a memorial was to recognise the sacrifice of others. It is unknown whether such debates were considered among Kaiparoro people when it was decided to create a memorial bridge, but the level of monetary and physical contributions to the construction project would suggest not.

In 1923 the ANZAC Memorial Bridge, with its explicit references to those local men who had died in World War One, was a poignant reminder of the Kaiparoro area's recent individual and collective losses as a result of that war. Those commemorated on the monument include Victor Andrew Falkner, who was the youngest son of Alfred Falkner. Victor Falkner and his cousin, Donald Kelway Pallant, both died at Gallipoli. While Pallant does not seem to have spent a significant amount of time in Kaiparoro his parents lived locally from the early twentieth century, and of course he had a family connection with the designer of the bridge. The other local men honoured on the bridge, Arthur Lock Braddick, Charles Gibson Harvey, Stephen Morgan, and John Howard Snell, were all from long established local families. The fact that most of those men named on the memorial had died at Gallipoli, or were among the reinforcement regiments sent to fight in the aftermath of Gallipoli, made the ANZAC specific dedication of the memorial particularly appropriate. However, one suspects that it may have been Falkner's loss of his son and nephew in the initial ANZAC battles which motivated him, in his role as designer of the bridge, to create a structure commemorating the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

The commemorative nature of the bridge not only had significance to those in the vicinity of Kaiparoro, as a tribute to those local men who had died during World War One, but it also had national and trans-Tasman resonances as an ANZAC memorial. The ANZAC legend was forged at Gallipoli, which was a devastating campaign and one that solidified the horror of the war in the psyches of those back in New Zealand and Australia due to the incomprehensible death toll. However, this also evoked a sense of national pride amongst the ANZAC countries, as is evident in the ANZAC Day commemorations that have taken place since 1916. Importantly, the legacy of Gallipoli and the ANZACs has been singled out as a key component in the evolution of the national identities of both New Zealand and Australia.

Another element of the ANZAC Memorial Bridge that enabled its commemorative function to reach beyond a local audience was that the war-related iconography on the structure was instantly recognisable to those using the highway bridge on their travels through the Wairarapa. The bridge includes several different enlarged replicas of World War One medals, one of which is the 1914/15 Star. A replica of this medal was particularly appropriate for an ANZAC memorial because it was awarded to all personnel who served at Gallipoli. Another medal replicated on the bridge is the Victory Medal, depicting Victory holding a palm leaf and encircled by an inscription which was found on the obverse of this medal awarded to approximately six million military personnel of the British Empire who fought in World War One.

These replicas form symmetrical pairings either side of the central motif which was a copy of the World War One Memorial Plaque. This was issued to every next of kin of those who were killed on active service during World War One, and was therefore nicknamed the Dead Man's Penny. The plaque depicts the standing figure of Britannia holding a trident and wreath, behind a walking lion. Other symbols on the plaque include dolphins, and in the area beneath the platform on which Britannia stands is a lion cub with a fallen eagle in its mouth. Because of the high visibility on the main highway through the Wairarapa and the motifs and references on the bridge that were easily recognisable, for many simply driving across the structure was an act of remembrance. This would have been repeated thousands of times by 1956 when the main route was diverted away from the ANZAC Memorial Bridge and a new highway bridge constructed nearby.

The planning and construction of the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was contemporary with the creation of the ANZAC Day public holiday in 1920. The commemorative function of this holiday was later extended to include all of those who died in both World Wars. Likewise, and similar to many other memorials erected in the aftermath of World War One, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge's roll of honour was expanded, through the addition of the plaque on the interior of the bridge, as a result of casualties during World War Two. This plaque repeated the names of the World War One losses and listed three further people: William Edward Kewley, Brian Charles Minett, and Margaret Olive McAnulty. Both Kewley and Minett were not originally from Kaiparoro but had subsequently spent a significant period in and around the area.

The other World War Two casualty listed on the memorial was Margaret McAnulty who was from of a prominent early Kaiparoro family and had been a member of the New Zealand Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The presence of New Zealand women on service during World War One was restricted to nurses. However, by World War Two this position was changing with many women not content with being limited to their traditional role of nurse or staying at home 'weeping, waiting, and fundraising.' As such, in 1941 women's auxiliary service groups began to be established based on male military models, and for the first time 'New Zealanders were confronted with the sight of women in military uniforms.' After being founded in 1942, the WAAC became the largest of the women's auxiliaries with 4600 volunteers, 900 of which served overseas in World War Two. These women worked mainly as medical support staff, clerical workers, or in the servicemen's clubs in Egypt and Italy. McAnulty spent much of her time posted in Egypt and was killed, along with three colleagues, when her transport vehicle was hit by another vehicle. She is one of only approximately ten WAAC members who were killed during World War Two.

By the 1950s the roads in New Zealand were being improved and more people were making use of them. As the last one-way bridge between Masterton and Eketahuna on State Highway 2, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was increasingly viewed as an inconvenience to road users. As such, the Ministry of Works (MOW) instigated a plan to build a new bridge next to the existing one, which would also mean realigning the road to eliminate the S bend. Initially the MOW was going to demolish the ANZAC Memorial Bridge when the new bridge was completed. However, entreaties from local people that it 'wasn't fair that memories would be blown up' forestalled this. While the bridge may have been no longer suitable in terms of its road infrastructure function, the public dismay at its possible destruction indicated that it still fulfilled its commemorative function admirably. Despite being diverted away from, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge's position immediately next to the realigned road and new bridge still meant it was highly visible along the highway, although arguably somewhat of a curiosity.

Despite its loss of infrastructure function, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was retained as an asset by the highway authority and as a redundant structure it was left to weather and age. As such, by the late twentieth century the bridge had a neglected appearance. Therefore in 1976 the bridge was repainted and restored. The project was prompted by the return of the central Memorial Plaque, which had been missing for many years. The plaque had reportedly fallen into the river and was recovered and removed from the site by a family picnicking at the bridge, which was popular spot among travellers because of its proximity to the rest area at the W.A. Miller Reserve.

Almost 30 years later another restoration project was launched. This was driven by a group of local people who banded together to form the Friends of ANZAC Memorial Bridge Kaiparoro Incorporated. This group was instrumental in commencing a restoration project in 2005 which was supported by Transit, the local and regional councils, other community groups and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. As was the case when the bridge was being constructed, many people donated time and labour to the project, including soldiers from Linton Army Base, and local school children who were engaged to repaint the bridge. The restoration initiative was also supported by central government who, as part of the Year of the Veteran in 2006, provided some funding to help with the aim of connecting the bridge to the W.A. Miller Scenic Reserve by way of a riverside walkway. The connection between the bridge and the reserve which was donated to the Crown in 1946 by Miller is appropriate because the reserve not only provides parking and facilities for visitors wishing to visit the ANZAC Memorial Bridge, but it connects the two main physical legacies of W.A. Miller. Once this work was completed the bridge was rededicated in April 2006.

Physical Description

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge is set among farmland in a shallow basin whose sides comprise of gently rolling countryside and the foothills around Mt Bruce. Aside from the mountain, another feature of the landscape is the Makakahi River which weaves its way north in a serpentine manner, with State Highway 2 intersecting it several times and following its general course. While the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was at one time the point of one of these intersections, from 1956 it has been located on the western side of the highway. The ANZAC Memorial Bridge is at a 45 degree angle to the south of the realigned road that leads over the steel truss bridge which replaced it in the highway network.

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge spans the Makakahi River, and sandwiched between this river and the highway is a track which leads to the W.A. Miller Reserve approximately 100 metres to the south. A stile along this track provides access to the river. On the opposite side of the bridge there is a small grassed area, which is fenced off from neighbouring farmland and the highway, and contains the remnants of the old road that ran across the ANZAC Memorial Bridge, as well as picnic facilities. There is also a wire fence dividing this area from the river bank. The space around the bridge is generally clear of plantings, with the exception of one tree in the picnic area. This means that there is a relatively unimpeded view of the bridge for several hundred metres when approaching it from either direction on the highway.

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge is a single span, open spandrel deck arch bridge, mass concrete structure which features solid concrete parapets. The arch is a parabolic form which supports a deck that shallowly pitches towards the centre of the structure and was only wide enough to facilitate single lane traffic during the period it was used for road traffic. The concrete abutments are embedded in the river bank on each side of the bridge. The spandrel areas of the structure are dissected by concrete members that connect with abutments and deck in a curve which echoes that of the main arch. They then join to the main arch approximately halfway between its base and apex and channel the load of the deck through the main arch. This feature is quite unusual as most concrete open spandrel bridges feature vertical ribs, such as those on the Grafton Bridge, Auckland, and smaller examples such as Whangamomona River Bridge, Aotuhia Valley. Falkner recorded the construction progress of the bridge and these photographs demonstrate that the process included using timber falsework upon which boxing was constructed in order for the concrete to be poured on site. The boxing is still visible on the underside of the arch and spandrel members.

The outward faces of the concrete parapets on either side of the bridge are punctuated by five posts that are evenly spaced between the endposts. These extend beyond the surface of the parapet, as well as the top of the cornice, and below the level of the deck. On these exterior faces the posts are shaped to mirror the flat edged curve that marks the joining of the parapet to the deck.

The commemorative aspects of the bridge are concentrated on the east parapet, and as such this parapet has the added feature of a curved section above the centre of the cornice, which bears the large metal replica of the round World War One Memorial Plaque. This central plaque was missing from the structure for many years but was reacquired and re-installed in 1976. The circular frame around the plaque was originally moulded separately and then attached with mortar to the parapet. In 2006 the top half of this frame, with the inscription '1914 E 1918' was re-established because at some stage it too had been removed from, or had eroded or fallen off, the bridge. This repair work is evident upon close inspection of the upper curve of the frame, and is also distinguished from the original lower section of the frame because the 'E' is not emphasised by being situated on a protruding rectangular section like the rest of the letters of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force acronym. This plaque was cleaned during the 2006 restoration project.

The pairs of 1914/15 Star medal and Victory Medal replicas on the east face of the bridge were made from moulds and then attached to the structure. These motifs were made from a fine cement-based plaster, covered with a thin layer of terracotta coloured plaster, and then affixed to the concrete parapet using mortar. By 2006 the north 1914/15 Star replica had been damaged to the point that approximately one quarter of it remained intact. Therefore, a mould was taken of the other plaque and a replacement created and installed.

The symmetry of the commemorative features on the east parapet is continued by its remaining elements. A ribbon, with two moulded tassels on each end, frames the names of the six fallen from World War One, which are inscribed three on each side of the central post. This ribbon, as with all the inscribed lettering on the outer side of this parapet, is picked out from the white background with paint; the ribbon is red, and the lettering black. The words 'IN REMEMBRANCE OF' on the ribbon are centred beneath the cornice and the Memorial Plaque. Likewise, 'ANZAC' is centred too, with the 'Z' being inscribed on the middle post. The pair of 1914/15 Star replicas are positioned after the first 'A' and before the 'C.' The Victory Medal plaques flank this commemorative section of the bridge.

The interior of the east parapet also bears plaques placed in the centre of its otherwise flat surface. The upper plaque is an original feature which identifies the construction date of the bridge and Falkner and Miller as being involved in the design and construction of the structure, and is moulded in plaster. This is located within the concrete arch of the parapet but at a lower position than the Memorial Plaque on the opposite face. As with several of the other decorative elements of the ANZAC Memorial, by 2006 this was in need of repair because many of the letters, particularly in Falkner's name across the centre of the circular plaque, had eroded and were illegible.

Immediately beneath the designers plaque on the interior of the east parapet is the rectangular granite roll of honour plaque. This was inserted into the parapet after World War Two. This includes the names of the fallen from both World War One and Two, on the left and right hand sides respectively. This plaque was presumably added because of the difficulty of incorporating the three names of the World War Two casualties to those from the previous war that were inscribed on the outward side of the parapet as part of the original design of the memorial.

Comparative analysis

Given the prominence of ANZACs in the New Zealand psyche after the disastrous events at Gallipoli it is perhaps surprising that there is only a sprinkling of memorials around the country specifically dedicated to the ANZACs. Other such memorials include the ANZAC Memorial Flagstaff in Petone, the ANZAC Memorial Tree in Eastbourne, and the ANZAC Cross at Tinui. All of these memorials were created before the end of World War One and are indicative of the horror that the New Zealand public felt as a result of the disastrous campaign at Gallipoli, with some communities creating a tangible reflection of this reaction in the form of ANZAC dedicated memorials. The ANZAC and Kiwi Halls in Featherston was also constructed during that period, and there is a public garden in Winton, Southland dedicated to the ANZACs. The variety of forms which these memorials take is a fair representation of the array of commemorative structures constructed after World War One, with the ANZAC Memorial Bridge being unique amongst this small group as the only bridge structure and one of only a few functional memorials. A much larger and later Australian example of a bridge commemorating the ANZACs is the ANZAC Bridge in Sydney, completed in 1996 but not dedicated until 1998.

The ANZAC Memorial Bridge is one of a small number of war memorial bridges in New Zealand, but it and the Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch are the most notable, and roughly contemporary, examples. Unlike its counterpart the Kaiparoro bridge was specifically designed as an ANZAC memorial, while the Bridge of Remembrance was dedicated to peace.

In comparing the two structures Thornton noted that the ANZAC Memorial Bridge 'lacks grace.' This is perhaps an unfair comparison because, although generally related due to their dual functions as both bridges and memorials, the differences in their circumstances means that the ANZAC Memorial Bridge and the Bridge of Remembrance are very different structures that cannot be compared on the same level. For example, the ANZAC Memorial Bridge was designed by an engineer in response to the local and wider national road network demand for a suitable vehicle bridge, which was combined with the idea of using the structure to commemorate those who had died in World War One. This bridge was constructed in concrete by unskilled labour in order to keep costs down. However, the much grander Bridge of Remembrance replaced a traffic bridge and was specifically designed by prominent architects as a memorial structure for pedestrian traffic, although this was not realised immediately. The cost of the Bridge of Remembrance was also over double that of the ANZAC Bridge. The differences in budget, design brief, and the size of the community they were to serve in their memorial capacity, also accounts for the difference in scale, materials used, and finish on the respective structures.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1921 - 1922
Bridge constructed

Addition
1923 -
Memorial plaques unveiled

Addition
1945 -
Roll of honour plaque on interior of parapet added

Other
1976 -
Restoration project including the reinstatement of the central plaque

Other
2005 - 2006
Restoration project

Construction Details

Concrete, granite, metal, mortar, plaster.

Completion Date

5th March 2010

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

MacLean, 1990

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

Thornton, 2001

Geoffrey Thornton, Bridging the Gap, Early Bridges in New Zealand 1830-1939, Auckland, 2001

Thornton, 1996

Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996

Flavell, 2008

K. Flavell, Living in Kaiparoro: Stories of a Tararua community and its ANZAC memorial, Masterton, 2008

Gentry, 2006

K Gentry and G. McLean ed., Heartlands: New Zealand historians write about where history happened, Auckland, 2006

Other Information

A fully referenced copy of the registration report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office

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.