Taradale War Memorials

193A Gloucester Street And 2 Elbourne Street, Taradale, Napier

  • Taradale War Memorials. Taradale and District Soldier’s Memorial. CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.
    Copyright: André Richard Chalmers - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: André Richard Chalmers. Date: 27/12/2016.
  • Taradale War Memorials. War Memorial Plunket Rooms 2017. Image coutesy of nzhistory.govt.nz.
    Copyright: Napier City Council. Taken By: Bruce Ringer.
  • Taradale War Memorials. War Memorial Plunket Rooms commemorative wall 2017. Image courtesy of nzhistory.govt.nz.
    Copyright: Napier City Council. Taken By: Bruce Ringer.
  • Taradale War Memorials. Original plans for the Taradale and District Soldier’s Memorial, 1920. Original plans for the Taradale and District Soldier’s Memorial, 1920. ACGO 8333 IA1 3126.
    Copyright: Archives New Zealand.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 1177 Date Entered 20th August 2020 Date of Effect 9th September 2020


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Secs 1-2 SO 454293 (RT 605401), Lot 1 DP 8368 (RT HB108/133), part of the land described as Legal Road, Hawkes Bay Land District, and the structures known as Taradale and Districts Soldiers’ Memorial, War Memorial Plunket Rooms and commemorative wall, sundial and flagpole. The extent excludes the road between the two structures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Napier City


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Secs 1-2 SO 454293 (RT 605401), Lot 1 DP 8368 (RT HB108/133) and Legal Road, Hawkes Bay Land District.

Location description

Additional Location Information

Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial: NZTM – Easting: 1930964 Northing: 5616988


The Napier suburb of Taradale is the location of a war memorial complex that commemorates those who fell and served in the First and Second World Wars. Constructed in 1923, the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial is the earliest and foremost feature of the site. It is located within a small park at a busy intersection and is an important and prominent landmark in the Taradale townscape. Built in brick and concrete, the memorial reflects the historic significance that local communities around the country placed on acknowledging their losses from the First World War in a public way. The War Memorial Plunket Rooms, built to commemorate Second World War servicemen and women, opened across the road in 1952, and additional commemorative elements were added to the park in subsequent years.

Like other places around New Zealand, upon the outbreak of the First World War Taradale people mobilised to support the war effort and were keen to do their bit. However, the impact of the war soon hit home and before it had ended local people were fundraising for a memorial to be created. The resulting memorial represented local sentiments of pride in the sacrifice of the local men, patriotism and commitment to Empire, as well as commemorating those who died. The site has been the focus for Anzac Day commemorations since the first memorial was completed in 1923.

The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial, built by notable local contractor A. B. Davis, has pared-back Classical features, such as a rusticated stonework effect, arches and a cornice in its lower section, as well as heavy scrolled buttressing supports for the upper tier’s clock section. Beneath Latin, English and te reo Māori inscriptions are commemorative and roll of honour marble tablets erected on three sides of the hexagonal structure. The memorial’s foundation was damaged during the destructive 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. Prominent local builder and the memorial’s original designer, John Ellis, teamed up with returned servicemen to correct the tilt. There has been little subsequent alteration to the structure other than the creation of the three shelter bay murals in the 1990s. The English cottage-style War Memorial Plunket Rooms, designed by local architect Kingwell Malcolm, is surrounded on two sides by a granite slab memorial wall.

The Taradale War Memorial site is an integral part of the social identity of the local community. The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial sits in a well-curated commemorative space, and has a distinctive architectural form compared to the relatively austere and funerary style of most of New Zealand’s First World War memorials. This memorial is unusual for its era because the commemorative aspects are combined with a utilitarian function as a civic clock, it acknowledges the service of those men who returned from the war, and it features a te reo Māori inscription. The War Memorial Plunket Rooms was entirely in keeping with the ‘living memorials’ ethos that prevailed after the Second World War and provided the Taradale community with health and social services for over 60 years.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Taradale War Memorials has historic significance because it represents the importance that local communities around the country placed on acknowledging their First and Second World War losses in a public way. By the end of the First War over 16,000 New Zealanders had lost their lives. First World War memorials like the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial have historic value because they served to provide a physical space for mourning family and friends and became the focus of commemorative Anzac Day rituals, thus giving individuals and communities a place to grieve and remember. This memorial is also interesting because the use of te reo Māori on the structure makes it more inclusive than most other town memorials of the era. As well as the main place where the names of those who died and returned are listed, this memorial has local historic importance as the physical embodiment of local sentiments of pride in sacrifice of the local men, patriotism and commitment to Empire. These sentiments are repeated in the War Memorial Plunket Rooms and its memorial wall, and the rose garden and sundial in front of the clock tower, all of which honour those who fought in the Second World War. The War Memorial Plunket Rooms has historical significance as an excellent example of the utilitarian war memorials typical of Second World War commemorations and is unusual in being the only Plunket building to constitute an entire memorial.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Taradale War Memorials has aesthetic significance because the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial’s high profile location, coupled with the design of the tower, make it a prominent and striking marker in the townscape. This memorial is a distinctive architectural form, lending a sense of grandeur and civic importance to the structure, which is reinforced by the clock’s auditory presence. The memorial clock tower’s aesthetic values are enhanced by the surrounding park, which is a well-curated commemorative space befitting the solemn nature of its purpose.

Cultural Significance or Value

The inclusion of the te reo Māori inscription or whakataukī on the memorial clock tower, likely included due to the influence of memorial committee member Tuiri Tareha, makes this place of cultural significance to the Ngāti Pārau hapū of Ngāti Kahungunu.

Social Significance or Value

Taradale War Memorials has been a socially important part of the townscape since the construction of the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial in 1923. This memorial has been the focus for Anzac Day commemorations as a site where people from the Taradale district come to remember the war dead and honour the service of returned soldiers. Strong community esteem was demonstrated from the outset, through fundraising efforts for its construction, and have endured, as demonstrated through the efforts to restore it after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, attempts to silence the chimes, and the continued improvements to the memorial and the grounds surrounding the monument in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It remains the focus point of local Anzac Day commemorations in the twenty-first century. The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial is also an integral aspect of the social identity of the local community because of its longstanding time-keeping purpose and because, as a main landmark, it is synonymous with Taradale. The War Memorial Plunket Rooms also required significant community fundraising and provided vital health and social services to Taradale babies and parents until 2014.

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category 2 historic place. It was assessed against all criteria and found to qualify under the following criteria: a, e, f and h.

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

War memorials like Taradale War Memorials are important landmarks in towns across New Zealand and represent the significant impact that war had on communities and the nation in the twentieth century. The First World War stimulated the creation of an extensive commemorative landscape of war memorials that was without parallel in the history of New Zealand. These post-First World War memorials became significant public spaces in most towns, such as in Taradale, becoming the focus for commemorating the sacrifice of fallen soldiers and the service of returned personnel. Often too, as in the case of the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial, memorials in the largest town in an area became a focus for district wide commemorations. The opening of the War Memorial Plunket Rooms and rose garden following the Second World War and subsequent additions to the wider commemorative space signifies the on-going importance placed on marking the historic impact of war.

(d) The importance of the place to tangata whenua

The Taradale War Memorials complex is of importance to Ngāti Pārau through the association of tipuna Tuiri Tareha with the te reo Māori inscription or whakataukī on the First World War memorial clock tower. This importance endures to the present day.

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

The community connection to Taradale War Memorials was evident at the outset, with the construction of the Taradale and Districts Solders’ Memorial the result of community fundraising efforts. Community involvement and support for preserving and restoring the memorial clock tower has endured since the post-1931 earthquake restoration of the memorial. The memorial clock tower’s ongoing use as part of Anzac Day services, and the care demonstrated in the creation and maintenance of the monument and surrounds, speaks to the value the community holds for the place. The utilitarian timekeeping contribution that the memorial makes in everyday life of Taradale townsfolk ensures a continued aural connection to the place. The nearby War Memorial Plunket Rooms embodied the ‘living memorials’ concept through the provision of Plunket services to the Taradale community for over 60 years.

(f) The potential of the place for public education

The prominent location of the Taradale War Memorials in a central, and high profile, part of Taradale enables easy access to the site. The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial tower retains its original site, form, and inscription giving contemporary visitors the chance to reflect on the place and impact of the war in the Taradale community. The park-like setting enhances the opportunity for contemplation by visitors to the place. The War Memorial Plunket Rooms across the road are readily discernible as a Second World War memorial through large lettering on the building and the inscribed plaques on the stone wall.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place

Despite the strong utilitarian themes of both the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial and the War Memorial Plunket Rooms, their local commemorative function is a defining feature of the place. The memorial clock tower symbolises the pride in service and sacrifice of local people in the First World War. Communities struggled for meaning when confronted with the extent of the loss of life in the war and the resulting memorials were generally ornamental and funereal in character. Memorials symbolised the sorrow and remembrance felt by communities as well as other societal attitudes of the day, such as pride in the war service, New Zealand’s place in the Empire, and the prominence of militarism in society. The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial reflects many of these aspects, but most strongly serves as a physical representation of the community’s strongly desire to commemorate the service of their local men, rather than provide an overt expression of sorrow which was common in First World War memorials of this era. It is part of a small subset of memorials where the involvement of Māori was commemorated in the monument, in this case through the inscribed te reo inscription or whakataukī. As the Taradale community’s response to the impact of the Second World War, the strongly utilitarian War Memorial Plunket Rooms is infused with commemorative value. The addition of supporting elements – the rose garden, sundial and flagpole – and the closure of an intersecting road in 1972 to create a park add further weight to the place’s commemorative significance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

A.B. Davis and Sons

Arthur Barker Davis (1884?-1968) was a resident at Taradale at the turn of the twentieth century and was involved in the Town Board, the Taradale’s branch of the Napier Thirty Thousand Club and also the local school committee. After the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake he set up business in Napier, trading under the name A. B. Davis and Son. This firm was responsible for constructing several post-quake buildings in Napier, including the Automobile Association Building in 1939 and the Hildebrandts Building (List No. 4813). His most impressive work was the St John the Evangelist Cathedral in Napier, completed in 1967.

Ellis, John

John (Jack) Ellis (1877?-1941) was a well-known Taradale resident, who was a builder and contractor by trade. He was a member of the Taradale Town Board from 1916, serving as Board Chair from 1922 to 1926. He acted as ‘clerk of works’ on the committee responsible for the erection of the Taradale and Districts Soldiers’ Memorial, and provided the design for the tower. Ellis took on the task of righting the memorial clock tower after it was tilted by the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931. He also constructed the Taradale Town Hall (1932) and was active in the Omarunui Bowling Club.

Kingwell Malcolm

Kingwell Malcolm (1912-2010) was a Napier architect. Prior to moving to Napier he was based in Gisborne, where he advertised his structural engineer and town planning services in addition to architecture. Perhaps his best-known project was the Waiapu Cathedral of St John the Evangelist (1967) in Napier, which replaced a brick church destroyed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. His Napier-based firm was Kingwell & Sweet; he was also associated with architects Mitchell & Mitchell, Natusch & Sons, and John Scott.

G. Stafford

Operated as a builder in the Taradale area in the 1950s.

Source: Listing report for Taradale Memorials (List no. 1177),

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history

The Taradale district is in the rohe of Ngāti Kahungunu, who came to the area in the sixteenth century. Food sources were plentiful, with rivers, swamps, forested hills and the sea all providing rich pickings. The land was fertile and the climate favourable, enabling kūmara to be readily grown. The area was dominated by Ōtātara Pā (List No. 6418) an extensive, early and important pā, associated with Taraia, a chiefly ancestor for Ngāti Kahungunu. Control of the pā enabled Ngāti Kahungunu to become established in the area.

After an unsettled period during the next century, punctuated by small conflicts across Hawke’s Bay, a time of relative calm settled over the area. Peace was shattered in the early nineteenth century with the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand and the ensuing ‘musket wars’ which caused much disruption. During the 1850s fighting between iwi saw British troops stationed in Hawke’s Bay. In the 1860s, as the impact of the New Zealand Wars rippled through the North Island, the settlers formed into militia groups, including those in Taradale, and a blockhouse and fortified villages were erected in the area. Conflict in Hawke’s Bay was not however widespread, unlike in other parts of the island.

The name Taradale comes from the farm that was established in the area by Henry Alley (1826-1912) and named after his place of birth, Tara in Ireland. The town was established in the 1860s when Alley broke up part of his farm into half and quarter acre sections. Over the following decades, the town of Taradale became the focus for community events and social gatherings. In 1886, despite a relatively small population of 414, Taradale was declared a town district with a council established to be responsible for all civic assets and improvements in the area. By the time of the First World War in 1914, Taradale was a small service town at the centre of a farming, market gardening and orcharding district, with 970 people reportedly residing there.

First World War

New Zealand’s involvement with the First World War began on 4 August 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the spark that ignited a tinder box of tensions throughout Europe, which had been developing for decades with nationalistic and imperialist aspirations fuelling conflict on multiple fronts. From the outset the war was wide reaching and saw the emergence of cross-nation alliances which quickly established the opposing sides.

The ties to Mother England and the notion of empire were still strong in New Zealand, and, in the wake of the South African War, the country had become increasingly militaristic. The leap to mobilising an army of volunteers to take up Britain’s cause was not a big one to take. Rationale for supporting the war was both political and economic, New Zealand relying heavily on Britain for trade and the protection of northern hemisphere sea trading routes. Within a few months the first expeditionary force left New Zealand, landing in Egypt for training. They first saw action on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula from 25 April 1915. By the end of the year, when the area was evacuated, 2779 New Zealanders had been killed. While the horrors of the Western Front in Europe were still to come, the impact of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign on New Zealand’s psyche proved profound, etching an enduring place in the nation’s history.

The impact of the First World War on global politics, trade, economics - in fact all facets of life across most of the western world - was significant. For New Zealand, what remains most poignant and noteworthy in terms of societal impact was sheer number of those who died and were injured, among the other privations experienced by the soldiers who fought in the war. The portion of the male population who undertook active service overseas was 9.1 per cent or around 98,950 – this was nearly half the number of men in New Zealand who were of eligible age. Of these, 16.9 per cent or 16,697 died during the war, with 40 per cent becoming casualties. Few if any communities in New Zealand were left untouched and most individuals were impacted.

Taradale and the First World War

By the beginning of the twentieth century Taradale was an energetic small community with enough local enthusiasm to establish itself as an independent town district in 1906, with a population of 805. The following years saw the Taradale Town Board fulfil a programme of civic improvements, raising funds to build a town hall and installing street lighting among an impressive list of projects.

When war was declared Taradale rallied behind the war effort, a number of young men enlisting within days of war being declared. On the home front, Taradale people raised money for the Hawke’s Bay patriotic fund and began planning a programme of fundraisers, including ‘six moving picture entertainments’ with the ticket price being donated to the fund. Locals were proud that ‘Taradale boys’ had been part of every group of reinforcements that had left New Zealand, and that there was a healthy list of keen prospects waiting to do their part, many of these joining with the local branch of the National Reserve.

Women of the district got in behind the war effort too, making clothing for wounded soldiers, and were soon organised into a women’s branch of a committee ‘for the purposes of providing comforts for the wounded’. The other main patriotic group in the area, the Taradale District Soldiers’ Committee, saw to giving the men from the district a proper send-off to war, with dinners accompanied by music and small gifts.

The first lists of dead and wounded from the landings in the Dardanelles appeared in the local newspapers in the first week of May 1915. The first death of a Taradale local came in early July 1915, when official news reached the area that Private Fred Muhleisen had been killed. Private Muhleisen had died at Gallipoli on the 29 April, weeks earlier. By September, the realities of war were being felt on the home front, the deaths of five locals from the wider area being reported in the press, including Sergeant David Lascelles of Greenmeadows, near Taradale. The news cast ‘quite a gloom’ over the larger nearby town of Hastings and the wider district.

Taradale commemorated its first Anzac Day on 25 April 1916 (the first year it was observed in New Zealand), holding a memorial service in the Taradale Town Hall. The commemorations were a district wide affair, Taradale acting as the community hub for nearby areas. The event was organised by the Taradale District Soldiers’ Committee, to ‘Commemorate the Gallant Deeds and Exceedingly Great Sacrifice of Our Men at the Dardanelles’, and to farewell others who were off to the front.

In March 1917, with the war still raging, the idea of erecting a soldiers’ memorial on Beatson’s Corner was mooted at a meeting of the Taradale Town Board. Beatson’s Corner was a triangle of Board land at the intersection of three main roads: by Napier Road (Gloucester Street), Avondale Road and Neave’s (Lee) Road. Fundraising for the memorial was soon in full swing. For example, in June 1917 a ‘Fancy Dress Football Carnival and Impromptu Sports’ event was planned, and concerts were held to raise money.

At the war’s end Taradale and surrounding districts had sent 291 of its men overseas to fight and over a quarter of those, 61 men, were killed. However, the earlier enthusiasm to commemorate their service via a memorial slowed. In 1919 there were suggestions that a baby hospital would be a fitting memorial, but the idea was not progressed. The Board published a Peace Day commemorative booklet in July 1919, which doubled as a settler history of the area and a roll of honour. A year later in 1920 nothing else had happened, and a disgruntled returned soldier took to the press to express his disappointment that the memorial plans had stalled. It seemed that lack of funds was the main problem.

This attention, and a very public presentation of an illuminated address, to returned soldiers of the district by the Taradale Soldiers' and Wounded Soldiers' Committees stimulated the Town Board into action. At the end of September, the Board promised that the memorial project recognising those solders who had died during the war, as well as those who returned, was a priority and would be completed by the following summer. Fundraising began again in earnest and a committee was set up to drive the project. Plans were drawn up, with Beatson’s Corner proposed as the site of the memorial. The Board included the erection of the memorial as part of their ‘progressive’ loan for several projects in 1921. They intended to supplement the £700 from donations with a £500 loan under the Finances Act 1919. The option received widespread support in a poll of townsfolk.

It was decided to construct a clock tower as the memorial. This type of structure was chosen because, as ‘something pointing to the heavens… to the “mid-day” sun of a grand and noble destiny’, towers:

"…appeal to human sentiment…something elevated, elevates. We stand inspired and solemnly respectful before it, and the more ancient they become, the more they are revered."

The designer of the Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial was John Ellis, a well-known local builder, part of the memorial committee and member of the Town Board. In August of 1922, the Taradale Soldiers’ Memorial Committee let the tenders for the memorial, with A. B. Davis being the successful contractor for a price of £980.

The promotional material that accompanied the plans proclaimed the intent of the project. The districts’ residents had:

"…decided to erect a noble and permanent Memorial to their valiant soldiers – a memorial that will be prominently placed before great and ever-increasing stream of traffic…raising itself with dignity, on this triangle…a memorial that the passing throng…may look upon and receive a striking reminder of the grand and noble deeds done for humanity."

By December 1923 the structure had been erected and the Governor General, Lord Jellicoe (1859-1935), was the guest of honour for the unveiling on 16 December 1923. A large crowd of over 1500 attended the commemoration, including a significant number of local iwi. The list of dignitaries included members of the Town Board and local hero and commander of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles during the Gallipoli campaign, Sir Andrew Russel (1868-1960). Although substantially complete, on the day the memorial was not finished, with £500 still being needed to complete it. The tablet with the names of the fallen on it was presented to the committee for installation on the memorial, bought from funds collected by children in the area.

The memorial clock tower soon became a town landmark and was the focus of Anzac Day commemorations. Memorials became necessary places in the townscape, providing focus for the shared communal experience of the annual quasi-funerary ceremonies of Anzac Day. The New Zealand government had refused to repatriate the remains of service personnel who were buried overseas. The crippling logistics of repatriation aside, this had the effect of preventing loved ones enacting traditional rituals and ceremonies associated with death. The spate of public monument building that followed the cessation of the First World War is part of an effort to provide a space where loss could be commemorated, providing families, friends and colleagues a focus for their grief, the sacrifice enshrined in perpetuity in stone. For decades after the war had ended, these monuments to the war dead were, in many ways, proxy graves.

Aftermath of the Earthquake

The massive earthquake of 3 February 1931 wrought devastation throughout the Hawke’s Bay on a scale not witnessed before New Zealand, or arguably, since. As with so many buildings and structures, the memorial clock tower was significantly impacted but luckily did not collapse. Eerily, the clock stopped at the time of the quake and the tower developed a noticeable lean of two feet six inches (75 centimetres). Photos of the tower in this state became emblematic images representing the impact of the event in the district.

By April 1931 the Board was seeking estimates to get the tower straightened. One estimate was for between £250 and £300. The local Returned and Services Association were keen to have the work expedited and completed prior to the next Anzac Day. It seems the Board met this challenge, as when there were reports of a severe aftershock in May 1932, the memorial was reported as having been reinstated and still intact post-aftershock.

The restoration work was carried out by John Ellis, the original designer of the clock tower. It entailed straightening the tower and pouring a new triangular foundation underneath. Ellis gave his time voluntarily to the project and was helped by five returned servicemen, who were paid for their work. During the job fifty-ton jacks were used to prop up the structure, the work stopping with frequent aftershocks and after which the jacks needed to be checked.

Second World War Memorials

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Taradale residents decided they wished to commemorate those who had served in that war as well. Because so many places already had a war memorial, which names could be added to, the government only subsidised new ‘living memorials’ that had a useful community purpose. In 1947, following a ratepayers poll, it was decided that Taradale’s new memorial would be Plunket rooms.

The Plunket Society (originally called the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children) was founded by Dr. Frederick Truby King in Dunedin in 1907 as a free health service for babies and mothers and local committees and clinics (known as rooms) were established throughout the country. Taradale first received services from a visiting Plunket nurse in 1919 and dedicated rooms opened in 1930. This was not purpose-built and in the 1940s a space in the Taradale Town Board offices was used.

In line with the nationwide baby boom following the end of the Second World War, Taradale’s Plunket service was in demand. In 1949 nurse Mabel Morris reported:

"The district continues to grow rapidly [and] there has been an increase in every way over the year. There were 22 more Birth notifications, 103 more home visits…and the visits of babies to the rooms increased by 273 and pre-school children by 30….From these numbers it will be seen how necessary Plunket Rooms are for this district…."

Following a major fundraising effort, the new War Memorial Plunket Rooms designed by local architect Kingwell Malcolm and built by G. Stafford of neighbouring Greenmeadows opened on the corner of Gloucester and Elbourne streets, across the road from the memorial clock tower, in 1952. The building was opened by Elizabeth Bodkin, the president of the Plunket Society, while her husband, Minister of Internal Affairs William Bodkin, unveiled the memorial plaques on the stone wall around the section commemorating fallen and returned servicemen and women. Around the same time a commemorative rose garden was created directly opposite the clock tower, from which it was separated by a road, through ‘many hours of voluntary work by Taradale residents’. In 1958 a sundial commemorating the Second World War dead was placed in the centre of the garden.

Later Developments

In 1972 the road between the garden and clock tower was closed, creating a single public greenspace. As part of this development the Napier City Council and the Taradale Lions Club joined forces to build a fountain there. A memorial flagpole was erected in 1993 to mark the 75th anniversary of the cessation of First World War hostilities and murals were painted into the shelter bays around the base of the clock tower in 1997, each depicting a branch of the New Zealand Defence Force. In 2002, a joint project between the Taradale Rotary Club, Taradale Development Association, and Napier City Council was started to illuminate the clock tower. Over $20,000 in donations and voluntary labour helped to complete the project. The job was sympathetically done with pre-1940s conduit and switches being sourced to install inside the clock.

The memorial clock tower has not always been appreciated by all, especially those living in close proximity to the site. In 2007 residents petitioned the Napier City Council to quiet the chimes after dark, as the chiming every fifteen minutes was leading to some losing sleep. Opinions were split on the matter, with many in the town treasuring the clock and its foibles as an important part of Taradale’s heritage.

The memorial clock tower and surrounding commemorative area continues to be central to Anzac Day activities in Taradale. The War Memorial Plunket Rooms was closed to the public in 2014, when a new purpose-built Plunket facility was opened in the nearby suburb of Onekawa, and requires earthquake strengthening.

Physical Description

Current Description

The Taradale War Memorials complex is made up of a number of elements. The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial (1923) is situated at the apex of a triangular piece of land at the intersection of three busy roads, including one of the main routes from Napier to Taradale. The land around the memorial is park-like, with a few large established trees and open greenspace. On the same piece of land is the Second World War Memorial Rose Garden and Sundial (1958) and a fountain built in the 1970s. Nearby, across Gloucester Street, is the War Memorial Plunket Rooms which was dedicated in 1952.

The memorial clock tower is hexagonal in form, consisting of two tiers. The ornamentation of the tower is influenced by Classical architecture. The decorative features are relatively stripped-back, reflecting the sombre function of the memorial as well as its construction era. The tower is built of brick and plastered in concrete, some of which has been shaped to give the impression of rusticated stonework. The fence and gates that originally surrounded the memorial have been removed.

Like funerary monuments of the time, memorials erected post-First World War were generally laden with symbolism and meaning. On one hand, part of a First World War monument’s function was a focus for grieving; on the other an articulation of pride in sacrifice for a just cause. Besides the necessary function as a physical place for public grieving, the symbolism and inscriptions on memorials contributed to sense-making as well, perpetuating societal views on the war. These meanings are often lost on contemporary audiences; this in no small part due to the ambivalent mix of monument form, iconography, carving and inscription that is present on memorials.

The focus of design for the Taradale memorial has more in common with civic architecture than funerary design. It is not until the viewer moves closer to read the inscriptions that the intent of the commemorative aspect is apparent. Given that the memorial serves to commemorate the service of all locals who took part in the First World War, not solely the fallen, this broader focus on aesthetically pleasing and inspiring architectural form, rather than the more usual funerary design makes sense. It stands out among First World War memorials, in the distinctive architectural aesthetic of its design.

The lower section of the tower is the focus for the commemorative aspects of the structure. It consists of three alternating sets of memorial wall and shelter/contemplation bay. Each of the shelter bays is accessed by a small flight of steps and has a bench seat, and mural (added in 1997) depicting a different branch of the armed services.

The Taradale memorial’s exterior walls have Neo-Classical design elements – each face consists of an arch in relief, above the rusticated concrete-work. Each of the three spaces under an arch has an inscription in relief. Each inscription is different: a Latin inscription reads ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’; a predominantly English one has ‘One God. One Flag. One Empire. Pro Libertate’; and a te reo Māori inscription reads ‘Paku i taku tinana e nui ana i taku manawa’. The inclusion of te reo Māori was likely to have been influenced by prominent local Tuiri Tareha, who was a member of the memorial committee and who affiliated to the Ngāti Kahungunu hapū Ngātu Pārau, whose takiwā or territory included Taradale. English is the predominant language on memorials, Latin features on around 10 per cent of the country’s First World War memorials, and te reo Māori is ‘not common’. However, among the memorials which include te reo Māori is a very early example in Kaitaia (Category 1 historic place, List No. 9985, unveiled 1916), which was a project led by Riapo Puhipi of Te Rarawa. There are also other examples which specifically commemorate Māori who fought in the war, including the Arawa Soldier Memorial in the Rotorua Government Gardens (Historic Area, List no.7015).

Below the arches and inscriptions on Taradale’s memorial, each wall features a small canopy sitting above the memorial plaques. The memorial plaque recording the names of the fallen is placed under the Latin inscription which translated as ‘it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country’. This acknowledges the ultimate sacrifice the men made for their country. The plaque’s inscription, aside from specifically referencing death, parallels traditional British and Christian sentiments and speaks to a clear linking of local commemorations to imperialist ideals. The names of the fallen on the monument are headed by the phrase ‘Erected in honour of those who fought and in fighting fell’, expressing a desire to remember the sacrifice made by the men on the memorial and linking to the arch’s inscription. At the top of the plaque for the fallen is an ivy leaf motif denoting friendship and immortality. There are 61 names recorded on this plaque.

The other two plaques record the names of those 245 men who returned. Recording the names of those who returned on First World War memorials was not common on New Zealand. As with the Latin phrase, these plaques directly relate to the content of the inscriptions above. For example, the English inscription is finished with a translation from the Latin, ‘for freedom’, and the te reo Māori inscription or whakataukī appears to be a rendering of a Scottish proverb alluding to the important contribution of stout-hearted people. Unlike the inscription for the fallen, these inscriptions celebrate those who returned by highlighting the noble sentiments and qualities behind their service.

This lower section of the tower is capped with a cornice and balustrading, on each side of the memorial. Directly below the cornice is a banner in relief around the structure which says: ‘Taradale & District Soldiers’ Memorial Great War 1914-1918’. A portion of the banner is over each arch or bay on the walls of the tower.

The upper tier is the clock tower - the utilitarian section of the structure - which is smaller in width than the lower part, but is approximately the same height. This upper section rises from behind the balustrading and features buttresses on each corner with stylised scrolled caps, like reversed consoles/corbels. There are three clock faces on the hexagonal tower and three solid walls, in the same alternating configuration as the shelter bay walls and arches, respectively. The clock has a chime that tolls every 15 minutes. The tower culminates with a six faced dome and a finial.

Two commemorative brass plaques have been added to the memorial either side of the plaque for the returned soldiers, one for the Victory in Europe Day (VE) Day anniversary and the other for Victory over Japan (VJ) Day anniversary, both commemorated in 1995. Lighting for the memorial was added to the site in 2002, replacing earlier lights that were on the monument itself.

The War Memorial Plunket Rooms is located approximately 110 metres north-east of the clock tower on the corner of Gloucester Road and Elbourne Street. The single storey English cottage-style building is constructed of concrete and brick and has a hipped roof clad in Marseilles tiles. The building’s function and commemorative purpose are proclaimed by the lettering ‘WAR MEMORIAL PLUNKET ROOMS’ on the main façade. The corner section is enclosed by a wall on both street sides composed of granite slabs, which includes three inset bench seats, two on the Gloucester Street side and one on the Elbourne Street side. The corner section of the wall contains nine marble tablets inscribed with the names of 21 fallen servicemen, 219 returned servicemen and four returned servicewomen. Underneath the tablets is the inscription ‘1939 TARADALE DISTRICT WAR MEMORIAL 1945’.


Monuments to the First World War dead are in many ways, proxy graves - public commemorative places for loved ones who had no body to bury. The 500 or so public monuments across New Zealand commemorating that war are a mix of forms and styles, but the overwhelming majority are some type of ornamental memorial, as opposed to utilitarian structures that would dominate post-Second World War commemorations. Utilitarian memorials, such as clock towers, were uncommon - a circumstance very much influenced by the Minister of Defence, James Allen whose idea was that a monument was to ‘present the conflict as the triumph of high ideals, and only non-utilitarian monuments could serve this role’.

The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial is one of a small eclectic group of memorial clocks; five in total. The Dargaville Memorial Clock was built into the tower of the already existing Dargaville Post Office (List No. 3827), which is different to the other First World War memorial clocks which were free standing memorials. The Blenheim War Memorial and Clock Tower (List No. 243) is the provincial monument for Marlborough and is constructed from stone from all round the province. The Waverley War Memorial Clock is a simple slim tower topped by a tiled roof. The Waipawa War Memorial is similar in style to that in Waverley, being simple and slim in form. It was unveiled earliest of the group, in 1922.

These memorial clock towers are all unusual given their utilitarian nature among the funerary form of many First World War memorials. Indeed, all the memorial clocks lack overt funerary symbolism, quite unlike many of the more traditional First World War memorials. They are squarely memorial, not pseudo-funerary monuments. They were (and are) an important part of the civic spaces in their respective towns through their timekeeping function (often with chimes), iconic form (tall clock towers), and prominent locations. In contrast to the bulk of other First World War memorials, via this utilitarian function they are daily visual and aural reminders of the events they commemorate. The Taradale and District Soldiers’ Memorial is like these other memorial clocks in this regard. In his history of New Zealand’s war memorials, Jock Philips described the Taradale and Blenheim memorial clock towers as ‘strikingly beautiful’.

In contrast to the clock tower, the War Memorial Plunket Rooms is a typical monument of its time, conforming to the prevailing ‘living memorials’ ethos of the Second World War. Many communities chose sportsgrounds and others swimming pools but the most popular option by far was a community hall. Some of these halls included Plunket rooms. Of the 15 World War Two memorials associated with Plunket rooms on the New Zealand Memorials Register, 11 are community halls that included rooms among other uses, and four are stand-alone rooms. Of these four, the Kaitaia and New Lynn rooms were part of a wider complex of memorial buildings; Karamea was a combined rooms and library. Taradale appears to be the only Plunket rooms that constitute an entire Second World War memorial, making it unusual in this respect.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1923 -

1931 -
Hawke’s Bay Earthquake

1931 - 1932
Earthquake damage repaired

Original Construction
- 1952
War memorial Plunket Rooms opened

1952 -
Commemorative rose garden opened

- 1993
Memorial flagpole erected

- 1995
VE Day and VJ Day anniversary plaques added to WW1 Memorial

- 1997
Murals painted in the tower bays of WW1 memorial

Construction Details

Clock tower: Brick; concrete; marble

Plunket rooms: Brick; concrete; granite

Completion Date

16th June 2020

Report Written By

Jackie Breen, Karen Astwood and Kerryn Pollock

Information Sources

New Zealand Journal of History

New Zealand Journal of History

Sharpe, Maureen, ‘Anzac Day in New Zealand 1916 to 1939’, New Zealand Journal of History, 15:2 1981, pp. 97-114.

Taradale Jubilee Committee, 1936

Taradale Town District Jubilee, 1886-1936. Napier: Taradale Jubilee Committee, 1936.

Phillips, 2016

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

Bargas and Shoebridge, 2015

Bargas, Imelda and Tim Shoebridge, New Zealand’s First World War Heritage, Exisle Publishing Ltd, Auckland, 2015

Other Information

A fully referenced proposal summary report is available on request from the Central Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand.


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