Memorial Obelisk

3 Russell Street And The Strand, Okarito

  • Memorial Obelisk with Okarito School (Former) on the right. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans . Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 29/07/2016.
  • Memorial Obelisk. CC Licence 2.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: Tony Doy - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Tony Doy. Date: 21/04/2014.
  • Memorial Obelisk, Okarito. Plaque inscriptions. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Shellie Evans. Taken By: Shellie Evans – flyingkiwigirl. Date: 29/07/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 5007 Date Entered 28th June 1990

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Res 1007 (NZ Gazette 1984 p. 3174), Westland Land District and the structure known as Memorial Obelisk thereon. (Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 8 October 2015.)

City/District Council

Westland District

Region

West Coast Region

Legal description

Res 1007 (NZ Gazette 1984 p. 3174), Westland Land District

Summaryopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

This monument is one of the very few commemorating Tasman's sighting of New Zealand. The obelisk was unveiled on May 21 1940 by the then Minister of Public Works, Robert Semple. Originally it had been intended to erect the monument at the trig station near Okarito but this plan was abandoned as it would have been too difficult to transport the materials to the summit of such a steep hill, 137.25 metres above sea level. The County Council therefore decided to build the obelisk in front of the Okarito School. The monument was erected at a cost of £150, which was raised by public subscription.

Unveiled during New Zealand's Centennial Year (1940), the obelisk commemorates the efforts of the Westland pioneers and three events which made their achievements possible. Abel Tasman's sighting of New Zealand in 1642 is thought to have occurred when he was sailing off the coast from where Okarito now stands. As recognition of his achievement was a feature of Westland's centenary celebrations, it was appropriate that the event be recorded on one of the obelisk's commemorative panels. In 1770 James Cook's voyage of discovery served as the catalyst for widespread European settlement of this country. In 1860 James Mackay successfully negotiated the purchase of Westland from local Maori at a runanga held at Okarito.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The obelisk commemorates three major events in New Zealand's history. as well as the achievements of countless pioneers who settled in Westland after the discovery of gold in 1865. Standing in a village which was once South Westland's principal port. The obelisk also brings to mind Okarito's heyday when hundreds of prospectors arrived there in the hope of striking it rich on the nearby black sand beach or the gold fields of Westland.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL QUALITY:

Both the shape and function of the obelisk were first determined in ancient Egypt where the monolithic tapered pillars were often covered with hieroglyphics, usually of a religious or commemorative nature. The obelisk at Okarito is a very austere example of a type of monument which was once very popular in New Zealand and which can be found in towns and cities throughout the country. Its architectural simplicity does not belie its importance to South Westland.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK VALUE:

A prominent landmark within the 'streetscape' of Okarito. Viewed from the seaward side against the backdrop of bush and Alps, the effect is dramatic.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Ashley, W F

W F Ashley, the Westland County Engineer

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION:

The obelisk stands on a three tier base and has a commemorative panel set within each of its four faces. The lowest level of the pedestal is 3.66 metres square and features a 3 x 3 arrangement of concrete posts linked by chains. Above this base the obelisk rises over 9.15 metres, its sides tapering as it does so to give a section 1.6 metres square at the base and 0.51 metres square at the top. To anchor this structure the foundation extends 1.83 metres below ground level.

The commemorative panels read as follows:-

North panel - 1940/James Mackay/Arranged Purchase/of West Coast/From Resident Natives/21 May 1860

South panel - To the memory of/The Pioneer Host/From 1864 Onwards/Whose Courage/And Perseverance/Founded and Settled/Westland/Reflect on what they did

West panel-Abel Tasman/Dutch Navigator/Voyage Nest Coast/13 December 1642

East panel - Captain James Cook/British Explorer/Sailed this Coast/23 March 1770

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1940 -

Construction Details

Reinforced concrete finished with white cement. Chains hung between concrete posts.

Completion Date

9th March 1990

Information Sources

Evans, 1942

D J Evans. 1642-1942. The Tercentenary of the Discovery of New Zealand - with notes on South Westland. Westland County Council, Hokitika, 1942

Other Information

A copy of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern 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.