Otahuhu World War One Memorial

Piki Thompson Way And Great South Road, Otahuhu, Auckland

  • Otahuhu World War One Memorial. Taken c.1986.
    Copyright: New Zealand History Online. Taken By: Jock Phillips and Chris Maclean.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 533 Date Entered 26th November 1981

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Legal Road, North Auckland Land District, and the structure known as Otahuhu World War One Memorial thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 3 September 2015.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Legal Road, North Auckland Land District

Summaryopen/close

The Otahuhu World War One Memorial is an extremely rare New Zealand example of a bronze equestrian statue. It is the only known representation of a New Zealand mounted rifleman, troops who served in large numbers in the forces New Zealand sent to both the South African War (1898-1902) and the First World War (1914-18). The monument is also rare in that it was commissioned and paid for by a private individual rather than by public subscription or a governmental organisation.

Otahuhu was established in 1847 as a Fencible settlement, at a strategic narrow point of the Auckland isthmus. The war memorial site is a prominent location at the junction of the Great South Road and Mangere Road, a commemorative triangle shared with an obelisk erected in 1868 to the memory of Colonel Marmaduke Nixon (c.1814-64) and his fellow volunteers who fell at Rangiaowhia in the Waikato Campaign (1863-4) of the New Zealand Wars. The prominence of the site and its existing memorial function made this a logical location for the erection of a memorial to men from Otahuhu Borough who were killed in the First World War.

The memorial was unveiled on Anzac Day 1928 by the Governor-General, Sir Charles Fergusson. The gift of the statue had been made on condition of anonymity, but the donor’s identity had leaked out in a London newspaper article, which was reprinted in Wellington in November 1927 while the bronze statue was being made. Alfred Trenwith, an Otahuhu footwear manufacturer, wished to provide a war memorial for the local community. When he was visiting England in the 1920s he saw an equestrian statue in the London sculptor George Maile’s yard in Euston Road. He believed it would make a good war memorial but considered the statue must depict a New Zealand soldier. When he returned to New Zealand he obtained a photograph of a mounted rifleman and sent it to Maile to represent this figure on the horse., William Henry Feldon (1871-1945) is noted as having begun work on the Otahuhu war memorial in late 1927. The exact nature of Feldon’s involvement is not clear; he may have prepared the original form, or perhaps more likely was involved in finishing and placing the statue after its arrival from London.

Alfred Trenwith and his wife and daughter attended the unveiling ceremony, but did not address the gathering. The Mayor of Otahuhu in his speech said that Mr Trenwith had not been prompted by any motive of self-promotion. He had made the gift, which he wanted to be anonymous, in order that the memory of those who had made the supreme sacrifice might be perpetuated, and that the people of this and future generations might be reminded of the hardships endured by the soldiers who fought in the Great War.

A bronze plaque on each side of the memorial reads: ‘This monument is erected to the grateful memory of those who died and to the undying honour of those who served in the Great War 1914-1918.’.

The sculpture is believed to be based on a photograph of 58763 Trooper Frederick Michael Glass (1892-1961), Auckland Mounted Rifles, a farmer from Waiuku who sailed with the 36th Reinforcements, Mounted Rifles Brigade on 21 February 1918. He was invalided back to New Zealand in 1919 with malaria, arriving on 19 April 1919, and was discharged on 26 August 1919.

In a 1990 refurbishment following a graffiti attack and repairs to plaster deterioration, a bronze plaque was added on the north end, reading: ‘In memory of those who served and gave their lives in: WWII, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam. May they rest in peace.’

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Feldon, William Henry

Feldon (1872-1945) served a five year apprenticeship in sculpting with J H Arnett at Oxford. He then worked for Farmer and Brindley in London. He was a visiting Master to the College at Eastbourne where he taught carving and modelling, while also teaching many apprentices at Oxford.

Feldon came to New Zealand in 1910. He undertook a series of panels for Government House in Wellington. Following World War 1, Feldon won competitions for the design of war memorials at Bombay, Pokeno and Rotorua. He was responsible for many statues during his life inxluding the Arawa Memorial at the Rotorua Government Gardens Historic Area and the Matakana War Memorial statue of George V.

Clements, Thomas (?1858-1952)

Clements began building work in Otahuhu in 1912 and built up his business until by the 1940s-50s he was employing over 200 tradesmen and other staff. He built a range of residential, industrial and commercial buildings from Kaitaia to Te Kuiti, but mostly in Auckland and Hamilton. He built the Matangi Glaxo Works in 1917, later erecting the Casein Storage Works at Frankton. Other contracts included: David Nathan’s house in Manurewa, St John’s College in Bombay, Star of the Sea Convent in Howick (Register no. 5430), Dalgety and Co’s Woolstore in in Manurewa and the Commercial Hotel in Hamilton.

Source: Registration Report for St Anthony's Convent (Former), Register No. 4345), February 2013

George Maile and Sons, London

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1928 -
War memorial unveiled

Original Construction
1927 -
Bronze statue cast in London

Modification
1990 -
Repairs; new plaque on northern end

Completion Date

27th June 2015

Report Written By

Stuart Park

Information Sources

Evening Post

Evening Post

Evening Post, 5 November 1927, p.20.

Woodward, 1972

Robin Woodward, 'Public Sculptures in Auckland, 1895 - 1971', MA Thesis, University of Auckland, 1972

Woodward, Robin, ‘Public Sculpture in Auckland, 1895-1971’, (MA Thesis - Art History), University of Auckland, 1972.

Manukau Courier

Manukau Courier

Manukau Courier, 1 March 1990, p.7.

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 26 April 1928, p.12.

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 Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.