Manakau War Memorial

Honi Taipua Street, Manakau

  • Manakau War Memorial. From:
    Copyright: Pippa. Taken By: Pippa.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 4065 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Legal Road, Wellington Land District, and the structure known as Manakau War Memorial thereon.

City/District Council

Horowhenua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Legal Road, Wellington Land District


Manakau’s War Memorial, located opposite the old post office on Honi Taipua Street, was built in 1921 to commemorate the men from the Manakau Township who had fallen in World War One (1914-1918), and later those killed in World War Two (1939-1945). The memorial is of historical, aesthetic, and social heritage significance. It is a place for the community to commemorate not only the men from Manakau, but all men from New Zealand who fought and died in the two world wars. Its uncommon sarcophagus style is a powerful symbol for the loss that comes with war.

Manakau’s War Memorial was built by J. W. Fisher & Co Ltd. and said to be designed by Major Charles Tatum, whom the nearby Tatum Park is named after. Constructed over the summer of 1920-1921, it was completed in March 1921 with its official unveiling commencing on April 25 1922. The site for the war memorial was debated throughout several public meetings, with various places including around Manakau School grounds being discussed. The chairman of the School Committee decided that it would be inappropriate to have a tombstone erected outside a school, and so by a vote 12-10, the road reserve outside the Post Office was agreed on.

The monument is rare in the fact that it is one of only 33 out of 505 war memorials nationally that were built in the cenotaph, or tomb-like, style. New Zealanders generally considered this style to be ‘too gloomy’ and too powerful a reminder of the cost of war. The concrete cenotaph at Manakau is in the shape of a sarcophagus on top of a shallow stepped base, and has inscribed black granite panels on all four sides; originally it was planned to have two machine guns allotted to Manakau as war trophies flanking either side. A low metal and concrete fence surrounds the monument. It was decided at a public meeting that the names that would go on the memorial would be only those of the Manakau men who had died during the war; there were 12 names.

In 1929, the Manakau Soldiers Memorial Committee gained permission to use land on the road frontage for beautification purposes; later in 1959, Horowhenua County Council leased the land behind the memorial from the New Zealand Railways for the same purposes. After World War Two, three more names were inscribed on a black granite plaque added to the front at the bottom of the memorial. In 1993, the Horowhenua District Council leased extra land from the New Zealand Railways for the development of the Driscoll Memorial Gardens adjoining the War Memorial; these gardens were completed in 1995 along with a beautification of the general area. Sometime between 2008 and 2009, the two further names (S.R. Jones and P.M. Te Hiwi) were added to the World War One plaque.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Major Charles Tatum

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

J. W. Fisher & Co. Ltd.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1921 -

3 names added

2 names added

Completion Date

22nd September 2016

Report Written By

Nicola Bowden

Information Sources

Phillips, 2016

Phillips, Jock, To the Memory: New Zealand War Memorials, Potton & Burton, New Zealand, 2016

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 Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.