Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television

since 1987

National memorial recognises Pacific wartime service

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Pacific Islands Memorial. Photo: Mark Tantrum for Manatū Taonga
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Pacific Islands Memorial. Photo: Mark Tantrum for Manatū Taonga

A new Memorial to acknowledge the contribution of Pacific nations to military conflicts and the bonds shared with New Zealand was unveiled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday.

“The Pacific Islands Memorial Te Reo Hotunui o te Moana nui a Kiwa recognises the close relationship between Aotearoa New Zealand and other Pacific nations, acknowledging the region’s contribution during times of conflict and the shared history that strengthens our bond today,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Pacific Islanders and New Zealanders fought side by side during many conflicts, including the First and Second World Wars, although our history goes much deeper than that.

“As a Pacific nation itself, Aotearoa is connected to all our Pacific neighbours by history, culture, politics, people, language and shared interests.

“This Memorial is an important addition to the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Brown and artist Michel Tuffery in front of the conch shell. Photo: Mark Tantrum for Manatū Taonga
Cook Islands PM Mark Brown and artist Michel Tuffery in front of the conch shell. Photo: Mark Tantrum for Manatū Taonga

The project to create the Memorial is led by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, with partner agencies Ministry of Foreign Affairs Manatū Aorere and Ministry for Pacific Peoples – Te Manatū mō Ngā Iwi o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

The design, by artist Michel Tuffery MNZM and Herriot, Melhuish and O’Neil Architects, was selected by an expert judging panel following a national design competition. It depicts a bronze conch shell, a symbol deeply rooted in Pacific cultures, and has a patina finish with remembrance poppies.

Named Te Reo Hotunui o Te Moana nui a Kiwa – The deep sigh of the Pacific, the design recalls the conch shell left in the Arras Tunnels by Kuki Airani (Cook Island) soldiers of The New Zealand tunnelling Company and the New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion, who were stationed beneath the town of Arras during 1916 to 1918.

You Might Be Interested In