ANZAC Memorial Flagpole

Hutt Road, Petone, Lower Hutt

  • ANZAC Memorial Flagpole.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 5/06/2010.
  • Upper section of mast and topmast.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 5/06/2010.
  • Flagpole base and garden area from northwest/platform.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 5/06/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 9438 Date Entered 2nd March 2011


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot DP 10589 (CT WN45B/670), Wellington Land District and the structure known as ANZAC Memorial Flagpole thereon, and its fittings and fixtures, as well as a curtilage which encompasses its flanking pohutukawa and gum trees, and its 1961 plaque. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).

City/District Council

Hutt City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Pt Lot DP 10589 (CT WN45B/670), Wellington Land District

Location description

The Petone Railway Station is adjacent to the intersection of Hutt Road and Jackson Street. The memorial is within the grounds of the Petone Railway Station and is approximately 20 metres southwest of the station building, between the platform and the parallel road.


Located at the railway station in Petone is the kauri and Australian hardwood memorial flagpole dedicated to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole was constructed in 1916 in time for the inaugural ANZAC Day commemorations, and was devised as part of a trans-Tasman collegial venture between employees at the Petone and Hornsby railway workshops in honour of their World War One ANZAC workmates who had fought in the Gallipoli campaign.

After initial troubles settling the Petone area the town developed into a leading industrial centre in New Zealand during the late and early twentieth centuries. This characteristic is said to have had its genesis with the creation of the Petone railways workshops which were operative between 1877 and 1929. This large set of workshops was important to the Railways Department’s Wellington and Wairarapa region operations and was also key to the department’s World War One war effort contributions.

The employees at Petone were as patriotic as many other New Zealanders at the time and demonstrated this in various ways, one of which was the construction of the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole and its erection at Petone Railway Station in time for the inaugural ANZAC Day commemorations. Its construction was required in order for the Petone workshops to fulfil its part in a trans-Tasman exchange of flags and unfurling ceremonies with New South Wales railwaymen from Hornsby. Initially planned to take place in March, the synchronised ceremonies were delayed until ANZAC Day, and each was attended by high ranking politicians and public figures, as well as the wider community. After this initial momentous occasion ANZAC Day ceremonies at Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole were infrequent until the mid twentieth century. After the 1970s they again lapsed until a resurgence in the early twenty-first century.

The flagpole was constructed by the Petone railway workshops in March 1916 and was erected by the District Engineer’s staff, on a small plot of land immediately southwest of Petone Railway Station, in early April. The surrounding garden has been subject to beautification efforts at various points beginning in the 1930s. In 2004 the flagpole underwent a major conservation project which saw it taken down for several months and decaying sections removed or replaced.

The flagpole is of historical importance as one of the few remaining early vestiges of the Petone Railway Workshop, which played a central role in establishing Petone as an important industrial and manufacturing centre in New Zealand. The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is also of outstanding significance as one of the first ANZAC related World War One memorials constructed in New Zealand, where ANZAC activities at Gallipoli are considered to be an important aspect in the development of national identity. The circumstances in which it was conceived, and the combining of New Zealand and Australian native timbers in its construction, also lend weight to the flagpole’s symbolic value, rarity, and its special national significance.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole, constructed in 1916, is one of the oldest ANZAC memorials in New Zealand and has outstanding historical significance as the site of the first ANZAC Day commemorations that were attended by a contingent of high ranking New Zealand dignitaries, including the Prime Minister, the deputy Prime Minister, and other senior ministers and local mayors. This attendance, as well as that of a large section of the local community, demonstrated how it was considered integrally important to commemorate the events at Gallipoli, and the inaugural ANZAC Day event at ANZAC Memorial Flagpole was a defining antecedent of this on-going tradition.

The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole was completed for the inaugural commemoration of ANZAC Day and was dedicated to memory of the New Zealand and Australian railway workers lost their lives in the ANZAC campaign at Gallipoli. The commitment of the Petone railway workshop workers and their counterparts in Hornsby, New South Wales, to the initiative of a trans-Tasman flag exchange and concurrent unfurling ceremonies on ANZAC Day, is indicative of the strength of local grief at the ANZAC losses. As such, this structure is an important reminder of the impact that the World Wars of the twentieth century had on communities throughout New Zealand and Australia, and its creation was ardently supported by the wider Petone and Wellington public as a result.

Because it is now one of only a few physical remnants of the Petone railway workshops, an institution which is credited as being the genesis of Petone’s industrial development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the flagpole also has considerable local historical importance.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The position of the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is prominent within its streetscape, and it has been a local landmark since its erection due to its site at the railway station which for many years was the main gateway to the town. The landscaping around the structure, first instigated in the 1930s, has meant that the flagpole has traditionally been the focal point within a small garden setting, which forms an oasis amidst industrial surrounds.

Social Significance or Value

Although the New Zealand Railways Department was a large employer the collegial nature of the various workshops and other departments meant that most employees had a connection to one, if not many, of the 37 railway staff ANZACs who died at Gallipoli. Therefore, the flagpole was of considerable social importance to that community because it provided a point for people to grieve for, and honour, those buried overseas. Initially, the flagpole’s significance in this respect transcended workplace boundaries and the wider Petone community also rallied around the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole. The flagpole has subsequently been the site of intermittent periods of annual ANZAC Day commemorations and is also socially important for the numerous other displays of respect and commiseration represented there on occasions when the flag has been flown at half-mast.

(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 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.

As the only built heritage remnant of the Petone railway workshops and the activities of its employees, the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is the only physical reminder of this institution which was integral in the development of Petone into a significant industrial centre nationally.

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

Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is a local landmark, and the community esteem for it has been demonstrated in recent years through opposition to its relocation proposal and also through support for a project to conserve the structure.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

As a public structure, the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole has potential for public education regarding the role of railways within New Zealand, locally, and particularly during World War One, as well as the impact of ANZAC losses on communities and the genesis of our modern ANZAC Day commemorations.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole honours the people associated with the New Zealand Railways Department who died on active service in World War One and Two, and since 1916 has intermittently been the site of ANZAC Day ceremonies. The commemorative nature of the flagpole and its position in the Wellington and Wairarapa rail network has also meant that its commemorative message has been recognised by an incalculable number of rail travellers since 1916.

The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is more than an ANZAC memorial in name only, because of the circumstances surrounding its construction. This involved a trans-Tasman exchange of flags and synchronised commemorative events designed to be representative of the strong ties between New Zealand and Australia that the ANZAC experience generated. This bond is physically symbolised in the structure through the use of native timbers from the two countries, and more recently through the plantings around the flagpole.

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

Although there are many memorial flagpoles in New Zealand associated with the twentieth century’s two world wars, Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole was the first World War One memorial in this form and is the only one dedicated to members of the ANZAC forces.


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

The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is a special structure because it is one of the earliest ANZAC-related World War One memorials constructed in New Zealand, in which the ANZAC activities at Gallipoli are said to be an important aspect in the development of our national identity. It was constructed in time for the inaugural ANZAC Day commemorations in 1916 and is of considerable historical importance because this event at Petone was the first attended by a large group of the highest ranked politicians in New Zealand. Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole not only symbolises the immediacy and intensity with which the Petone railway workshops employees felt the need to commemorate the loss of colleagues killed at Gallipoli, but its conception was a trans-Tasman initiative designed to be reminiscent, and honouring, of the ANZAC spirit. As such, the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is a unique place and one of outstanding national significance.


Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The Maori discovery and settlement of the Wellington region is connected with several prominent figures in New Zealand’s history. Ancestral figures such as Kupe, and Toi are both associated with the area. Wellington Harbour, Te Whanganui a Tara (the great harbour of Tara), was named after the chief of Ngai Tara, and his people as well as Ngati Ira from Hawke’s Bay were the earliest iwi to settle in the Wellington region. At various times Rangitane, Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Mamoe and Ngai Tahu have also occupied parts of the Wellington region which sometimes resulted in inter-tribal conflicts. However, for the Ngati Ira based at Pito-one the biggest upheaval occurred in the 1820s when they were displaced by northern iwi, Ngati Mutunga and Te Ati Awa. Twenty years later Te Puni was the paramount chief of local Te Ati Awa who occupied a pa on the waterfront at Pito-one. Te Puni encouraged European settlement in the area and as such the first European settlement in Wellington was located close to the pa, and after initially being called Britannia this eventually became known as Petone.

The first of these European settlers arrived in late 1839 to buy land and scope out the New Zealand Company’s Port Nicholson settlement. The Petone site for the settlement was a poor choice mainly because it was subject to frequent flooding. Therefore, many of these early immigrants moved to a new site in Thorndon, but some battled on at Petone. Because of flooding the town could not progress substantially until stopbanks were constructed in 1900, although by this time it had already begun its development into a major New Zealand industrial and manufacturing centre; a dominating characteristic that Petone would retain throughout the twentieth century.

It was the advent of the railway and the associated workshops which are credited as the catalyst for Petone’s industrial development. The Petone railway workshops were opened in 1877 on the New Zealand Railways main line from Wellington which was begun in 1872 and reached Petone two years later. The workshops were located west of the Petone Railway Station below Korokoro Hill, a site now bisected by Western Hutt Road/State Highway 2. Initially a private workshop built at Wellington’s Pipitea Point was used by Railways, but the Government was mindful that it would eventually need to find a site to build its own workshop, and among the proposed sites was Evans Bay, which would have had to be accessed with a branch line. However, Petone offered the best location adjacent to the exiting railway line and in 1876 a start was made on construction. Most of the workshop’s facilities in use during World War One were built between 1877 and 1881, but with plenty of available space in the immediate surrounds these were gradually added to as demand necessitated. The railway workshops marked the beginning of Petone’s industrial, and corresponding economic development, and were quickly followed by a meat works and woollen mill.

The importance of the railways to the World War One war effort and the general running of a country was also widely acknowledged in New Zealand and internationally at the time. Speaking on ANZAC Day 1916 in Hornsby, Australia, the New South Wales Minister for Railways noted that as a result of the initial surge of railwaymen enlisting by 1916 railway workers were prohibited from enlisting to ensure that the railways could still function at the required level. In New Zealand the situation was similar with passenger numbers increasing exponentially because of the necessity of transporting thousands of troops to training grounds, camps, and to points of overseas departure. With the Trentham Camp being on the Wairarapa Line, the Petone Railway Station would have witnessed many of these trains taking soldiers there and then back to Wellington where they departed for war.

In particular, the Petone railway workshops played a vital role in the Railway Department’s contribution to the war effort during World War One. The Petone workshop not only helped to maintain existing trains and equipment, but also manufactured the army’s Maxim machine-guns, converted carriages to cater for transporting the wounded, and made the stretchers that Trentham Camp inhabitants slept on. The workshop employees were also visibly patriotic during the war, with the staff contributing to charitable institutions involved in the war effort, such as the Red Cross, and through other demonstrations like their impromptu parade down Jackson Street in May 1915 upon receipt of word of a military success in the Dardanelles.

It was late in 1915 that the Petone railway workshops staff were approached by the New South Wales Railways and Tramways Department, through the General Manager of the New Zealand Railways Department, to partake in a trans-Tasman interaction with their Hornsby counterparts. This was to involve the swapping of a New Zealand flag with an Australian Red Ensign from Hornsby; an exchange that was meant to be evocative of the spirit of camaraderie demonstrated by those New Zealand and Australian railwaymen who had fought together as part of the ANZAC force at Gallipoli. The idea to honour their colleagues in this fashion originated with the Hornsby workers who planned to give troops a grand send-off from their station. The Hornsby men wanted to garland and decorate the station with various flags for the occasion and rather than purchase a New Zealand flag they proposed the exchange and also that an unfurling ceremony be arranged to take place at the same time. At Hornsby their existing station flagpole was also to be replaced especially for the occasion.

Progress on making the New Zealand flag, exchanging it, and then building the flagpole, was fairly swift once the decision to go ahead was made and the Petone Railway Patriotic Committee formed in January 1916. The plans for the memorial not only required the Petone Workshop employees to pay for the flag, to construct the flagpole and provide materials for the original picket fence surrounding the flagpole garden, but also involved various other arms of the Railways Department. For example, the District Engineer’s staff were in charge of erecting the flagpole and the station staff were later placed in charge of maintaining the gardens.

The exchange of the flags had taken place by late February 1916 and the flagpole was constructed a few weeks later, in time for the original unfurling date of 4 March. However, it was not erected until 8 April 1916 because it was decided to delay the unfurling ceremonies until the first ANZAC Day on 25 April. By mid April plans were well under way on both sides of the Tasman for the respective ANZAC Day Hornsby and Petone ceremonies. Invitations had been sent out and the technical aspects of the day were being considered with station decorations being organised as well as refreshments, and fund and morale-raising functions. Given that the Petone Workshops had manufactured a range of equipment for the Defence Department it was considered appropriate that the Trentham Camp Band play at the unfurling. However, the existing train schedules are not convenient for them, so the Railways Department put on a special train to transport them to and from the camp.

This first ANZAC Day ceremony at Petone was described as ‘one of the most memorable days in the history of Petone’ and was attended by hundreds of railway workers and their families, Petone residents and people who had travelled to the ceremony from central Wellington. Indeed, both the Hornsby and Petone ceremonies drew large attendances from the wider community. The event was also attended by high profile dignitaries including Prime Minister W.F. Massey (1856-1925), Sir Joseph Ward (1856-1930), the area’s member of parliament T.M. Wilford (1870-1939), Mayor Ewan, and fittingly, W.H. Herries (1859 -1923) who was the Minister for Railways, as well as his fellow Ministers for Agriculture, Customs, Education, Internal Affairs, Native Affairs and Public Works. The son of Mr T. Stone, the chairman of the Hornsby memorial committee, was there as the representative of the Hornsby railway men. At Petone, the Australian Red Ensign provided by the Hornsby workers was unfurled by the Prime Minister on the crossbar of the flagpole opposite a New Zealand flag that had been made by the Petone Workshops Trimmers Department and was unfurled by Ward. The Union Jack took precedence on the main mast of the flagpole and was hoisted by the Minister of Railways.

In 1916 the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole became a poignant reminder of Petone’s and the Railways Department’s recent individual and collective losses as a result of World War One. In total 37 New Zealand Railways employees were killed at Gallipoli. The unfurling ceremony on ANZAC Day 1916 at Petone, and the memorial flagpole, would have taken on further significance for the workshop employees because of their personal connection to Major Norman Frederick Hastings. Hastings was a veteran of the South African War and a popular foreman fitter at the Petone Workshop. Unbeknownst to his workmates there at the time, Hastings died of wounds sustained at Chunuk Bair in August 1915. It was in late March 1916 that a Court of Enquiry reported that Hastings, who had been listed as missing believed dead, had died of his wounds. Despite the uncertainty around his status in late 1915 and early 1916, honouring Hastings is thought to have been a key motivator for the Petone Workshop employees in organising the construction of the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole.

New Zealand memorials to those who died in World War One, like Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole, started to be erected while the war was still taking place. Since the men who died during the war were buried overseas, for the majority of the affected families and communities 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. Most memorials were constructed within a decade of the cessation of World War One, and these were mainly 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.

Until the construction of the Petone War Memorial in 1921, the flagpole was Petone’s only publicly accessible and prominently positioned war memorial. At the unfurling ceremony the Prime Minister commented on the fact that the efforts of the railwaymen in organising its construction was particularly public spirited in this respect. The situation was similar in Hornsby and when the community found out about the railway men’s initiative they were keen to come on board and broaden the meaning of the planned ANZAC Day activities at the respective railway stations to include the wider community and not just the railway workers and their families.

The commemorative nature of the flagpole not only had significance to those in the vicinity of Petone, and to Railways Department employees and families, 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 in Turkey, 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. Over the nine months of fighting about one quarter of the New Zealanders involved in the campaign died. In the broader context of World War One, these losses were meagre in comparison with those in France and Belgium. However, there was the feeling that in the Gallipoli campaign the ANZAC forces were thrown into an impossible situation and showed immense selfless courage in battling against the odds. At the Hornsby ceremony, the actions of the ANZACs at Gallipoli were likened to those of the Spartans at Marathon, and said to have awakened ‘a national martial spirit.’

The situation which faced the ANZAC forces at Gallipoli evoked a sense of national pride amongst the ANZAC countries. This is evident in the ANZAC Day commemorations that have taken place since 1916 and at which the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole played a prominent role in New Zealand. 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. Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole became a symbol of the strengthened bond between New Zealand and Australia created through the ANZAC campaign at Gallipoli. This relationship was solidified by the collective grief and pride of the citizens of the ANZAC countries and was widely recognised and espoused from early in the history of ANZAC commemorations, with the former Prime Minister of Australia Sir Joseph Cook (1860-1947) stating at the Hornsby 1916 ANZAC Day ceremony that he interpreted ANZAC as meaning ‘Australia and New Zealand are comrades.’ Aside from the exchange of flags, the physical construction of the Petone flagpole reinforced this idea as it was symbolically constructed by bonding Kauri and Australian hardwood together.

ANZAC Memorial Flagpole: a survival story

The Petone railway workshops were one of six early North Island shops which were the result of the fragmented nature of the railway system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, by the 1920s the network was more cohesive and with many of the existing workshops needing major machinery upgrades a 1924 commission recommended a comprehensive modernisation programme. Petone workshops were a casualty of this and were closed in 1929 because it was more cost effective to built completely new workshops at Hutt than upgrade Petone’s existing facilities. This was one of the reasons why the Hutt Valley Branch line between Petone and Waterloo was constructed. Thereafter, the Petone workshops, with its over 900 employees, were closed, and later mostly demolished to make way for the Todd Motors assembly plant.

After the inaugural ANZAC Day ceremony the commemorative events at the Petone Railway Station ceased, with the exception of a ceremony at the flagpole held in 1918 by Petone workshops employees who were concerned not to loose sight of the events at Gallipoli, and also one the following year. A ceremony had not occurred the previous year presumably because the workshop staff were not given time off to commemorate ANZAC Day, which was a source of tension given that other sectors of the Railways Department were. Despite being instigated in 1916, ANZAC Day did not become an official public holiday until 1920 and this could account for the loss of momentum in regard to a consistent annual ANZAC event at the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole. The flagpole’s obsoleteness was compounded in 1922 when it was surpassed as Petone’s war memorial. The new trooper statue then became the focus of the town’s ANZAC Day commemorations.

The construction of the Petone War Memorial saw the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole become largely redundant. This lack of use was the basis for a proposal by the local council, who required a flagpole, to relocate the one at the railway station. This idea was floated in 1934 and seems to have been mainly driven by the mayor, David McKenzie, because it was abandoned after his death in October despite the Railways Department agreeing to it. Instead in 1935 the council decided that because the railway station was the gateway to the town that it should be the focus of a beautification scheme. As such the council leased the land surrounding the flagpole at a peppercorn rental and instigated a planting and beautification programme, with the flagpole remaining the responsibility of the Railways Department. In 1994 relocation of the flagpole was again mooted, this time by the Petone Community Board who thought it would be appropriate to move the flagpole to Petone’s Memorial Park. However, the strength of public opinion in opposition suspended any such move.

The ANZAC Day tradition started in 1916 was reinvigorated in the early 1950s and ceremonies were held annually at the flagpole for the next twenty years. The raised profile of the flagpole meant that during this period maintenance of the monument and the surrounds was again a focus, and the growth in interest also saw the Railways Department add a plaque and wreath holder to the base of the flagpole in 1953, and a further plaque was erected in 1961. The resurgence of the ANZAC activities at the flagpole from the 1950s seems to also have spurred the creation of another committee, the Petone Railway ANZAC Committee, to replace that which would have ceased when the Petone railway workshops closed.

After this late twentieth century lull, commemorative use of the flagpole began to gather momentum again after a partial restoration during a heritage initiative by local businesses involved in the Jackson Street Programme. On ANZAC Day 1995 a ceremony was held at the flagpole and a plaque unveiled detailing a long list of groups who had assisted with the partial restoration. However, it was not until 2005, after a significant flagpole restoration project, that the flagpole again began to be used for annual ANZAC commemorations, organised by the Petone Community Board. At this time the tradition established at the first ANZAC Day ceremony of flying the Australian ensign was reinstituted to emphasise trans-Tasman links.

Recently, the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole has also been used to commemorative other events. In 2004 a ceremonial unfurling took place in honour of the opening of the new Petone Railway Station, and earlier in 2002 a flag was flown at half-mast as a mark of respect at the death of the Queen Mother (1900-2002). In 2005 the Prime Minister’s Department began notifying the Petone Community Board of official occasions when the New Zealand flag was to be flown at half-mast at the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole. That year this occurred on three occasions: to honour those killed in the series of coordinated terrorist bombings in London, and to mark the deaths of former Prime Minister David Lange (1942-2005), and Green Party Co-Leader and Member of Parliament, Rod Donald (1957-2005). Subsequently many half-mast observances have taken place commemorating Dame Te Atairangikaahu (August 2006), Sir Edmund Hillary (11-12 and 21-22 January 2008), the victims of the Samoan tsunami (9 October 2009), Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell who died in Afghanistan (4 and 11 August 2010), and also the Pike River Coal Mine Disaster (25 November and 2 December 2010).

Physical Description

The ANZAC Memorial Flagpole is over 21 metres tall and is located at the Petone Railway Station, between the southwest end of the station’s southeast platform and Hutt Road. The flagpole, and its associated garden, forms a focal point at the station and is highly visible at the corner of Hutt Road and Jackson Street, but particularly when approaching the station from the north along Hutt Road. Because of its height the top of the flagpole can be seen from many directions and at a distance, due to the single storey or low-rise nature of most of the buildings in the immediate vicinity, and also its slightly raised site.

The flagpole stands surrounded by trees and shrubs except for the platform side which provides the only direct access to the structure. The two trees closest to the flagpole are notable for their symbolism which echoes that of the flagpole itself: there is a pohutukawa to the northeast and a gum tree to the southwest. These trees are representative of the ANZAC countries and have grown in such a way that their branches extend out over the platform and touch in the centre.

The flagpole comprises of two main sections; the mast is made from Australian hardwood and the topmast is kauri which gradually tapers and has a rounded cap. The lower section is the mast of the flagpole which is bolted to brackets that are set in concrete. At its base the mast is squared timber before being shaped into a round pole about one metre from its base. Where the mast and topmast meet and are overlaid the timber of each section has been flattened to allow a flush connection. The sections are held together by two encircling steel collars. Four steel yardarms extend out from this area and are secured further through the use of guy-wires that are attached to two separate steel rings. The four guy-wires for the flagpole are attached to yet another of these rings and secured in the ground.

The flagpole’s nylon halyard is attached towards the pinnacle of the topmast and extends down the flagpole to a steel cleat on the northeast side of the mast, just beneath the area where it becomes moulded into the round.

On the northwest side, towards the base of the flagpole is a bronze plaque attached in 1995 which briefly details the idea behind the memorial and the various groups who contributed to a restoration project that year. The long sides of the rectangular base also have plaques: on the southwest side is a sign that explains that the flagpole honours New Zealand and Australian railway men who fought in both of the twentieth century’s world wars, and on the northeast face is a bronze oval Rail Heritage Trust of New Zealand plaque.

Sometime after 1973 the 1961 Formica plaque explaining the events surrounding the creation of the memorial was removed from the flagpole and moved to its present position on the Hutt Road frontage of the flagpole garden. The plaque sits at the centre of a small arched section of the concrete retaining wall at the base of the flagpole. Previously this area had been the access point to the flagpole, but the creation of the wall has meant that direct access to the structure is now only available from the platform side.

Aside from various instances of repainting and a partial restoration in 1994-95, it would appear that no major conservation projects were undertaken at the flagpole until that completed by Tony Bartley, architect, in 2004. This involved removing the flagpole from its site and replacing most of the steel fittings, bolts, and washers. It also saw the removal of several small areas of decayed timber, mainly from sections which had been encircled by rusted steel rings and collars, so that the flagpole is now approximately 20 centimetres shorter than it was originally.

Comparative analysis

Given the prominence of ANZACs in the New Zealand psyche after the disastrous events at Gallipoli it is perhaps surprising that there are only a sprinkling of memorials around the country which specifically relate to Gallipoli or commemorate ANZAC loses there. Other such memorials include the ANZAC Memorial Tree in Eastbourne, and the ANZAC Cross at Tinui. Like the ANZAC Memorial Flagpole 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, which motivated some communities to create a tangible reflection of this in the form of memorials dedicated to the ANZACs. 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. A later example is the ANZAC Memorial Bridge in Kaiparoro which was constructed between 1921 and 1922. The variety of forms which these memorials take is a fair representation of the array of different commemorative structures constructed as memorials to those who died in World War One, although the most common forms such as obelisks and trooper statues are absent.

Perhaps New Zealand’s most famous memorial flagpole is that at Waitangi, constructed in 1947, which indentifies the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. However, there are also many flagpoles associated with commemorating the two world wars of the twentieth century, with the structures either being a memorial in themselves, or else more commonly part of a larger complex, such as the many examples connected with war memorial halls or Returned and Services’ Association buildings. A few mid twentieth century examples include: the Matihetihe Native School World War Two memorial flagpole (1946) and a flagpole at North Head, North Shore (1953). Aside from Petone’s ANZAC Memorial Flagpole, another World War One memorial flagpole is included in the Rahotu War Memorial (1920). However, the Petone memorial appears to be the first specific memorial in the form of a flagpole connected with World War One, which is also specifically dedicated to members of the ANZAC forces, and whose construction was the result of a trans-Tasman initiative.

Relating back to the circumstances in which the Petone ANZAC Memorial Flagpole was erected, it is uncertain when the 1916 Hornsby station flagpole was removed. It may have been as early as 1923 when the town’s cenotaph was constructed. However, it seems more likely that the flagpole was removed when Hornsby Railway Station was rebuilt as part of the Cowan to Hornsby railway electrification project in 1959.

Construction Dates

2004 -
Restoration project

Original Construction
1916 -

Construction Details

Timber, steel, wire, concrete.

Completion Date

10th February 2011

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Archives New Zealand (Wgtn)

Archives New Zealand (Wellington)

ANZAC Day Ceremony Petone, Proposal to exchange flags with Hornsby Railway Department New South Wales, AAEB W3293 226 15/5862 pt 1; Petone station, Erection of Flagpole, 1916-1965 R-W 3 28 9319

Bromby, 2003

Robin Bromby. Rails that Built a Nation. An Encyclopedia of New Zealand Railways. Grantham House. 2003

MacLean, 1990

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

Gentry, 2006

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

King, 2005

Jonathan King and Michael Bowers, Gallipoli Untold stories from war correspondent Charles Bean and front-line ANZACs: A 90th Anniversary Tribute Random House New Zealand: Auckland, 2005.

Atkinson, 2007

N Atkinson, Trainland: How railways made New Zealand, Auckland, 2007

Cameron, 1976

Cameron, W.N., A Line of Railway: The railway conquest of the Rimutakas, Wellington, 1976

Davidson, 2006

Davidson, G. & S. McNabb, ‘Til the Day Breaks: World War I memorials in Petone, Petone, 2006

Petone Borough Council, 1940

Petone Borough Council, Petone’s First 100 Years, Petone, 1940

Wolfe, 2004

Wolfe, R., On Active Service: New Zealand at war, Auckland, 2004

Other Information

A fully referenced 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.