War memorials have many purposes – above all they provide places for reflection, grieving and remembrance, but by giving permanent space to each individual name lost in conflict, they also hold us accountable for ensuring that we never forget the price paid by thousands of individuals who served and died, all of whom left behind families and full lives.
Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum has two halls dedicated to remembering our war dead: the WWI Hall of Memories (also known as The Sanctuary) and the WWII Hall of Memories. The Sanctuary formed part of the original 1929 Museum building and gave the families of the dead a physical place to visit. This is a devastating reminder of the reality that most service personnel (more than 18,000 New Zealanders in the First World War alone) were buried overseas, and more than 5,000 have no known grave. Many of those bereaved families contributed to the fund to build the Museum. The earlier New Zealand and South African Wars are also commemorated in the Western alcoves that lead off the main Sanctuary.
By the time the Museum was renovated and expanded in the 1960s a further World War had taken place, taking with it the lives of thousands more New Zealand soldiers. This necessitated a further memorial and the WWII Hall of Memories was added, a long corridor flanked with stained glass and steeped in symbolism, which again lists each of the names of the dead during service from the Auckland province.1
In both halls, the last panel under the final name holds the painfully optimistic message “Let these panels never be filled.” Tragically, to the end of those panels there have since been added names from conflicts in Korea (1950-1953), Malaya-Borneo (1948-1966), Vietnam (1961-1975), Bosnia (1992-1995), Kuwait (2001), East Timor (1999-2003) and Afghanistan (2001-present). Due to Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum’s role as a living memorial, so long as wars are fought and New Zealanders lose their lives, our work updating and amending these panels will be ongoing.
Auckland Museum belongs to an established tradition of neoclassical war memorials that rely on the longevity of engravings in stone to communicate that the ultimate sacrifice made by these named service personnel will never be erased. This permanence is how many Commonwealth countries pay their respects, chiselled in stone “lest we forget.” The names carved onto the walls are drawn from the rolls of personnel who served in the province, and while they are remarkably accurate, human error means that there are inevitably mistakes. Online Cenotaph Collection Manager Victoria Passau explains: “This process of additions and corrections is part of how we whakamana (uphold the mana of) our service personnel by making sure their names are correct. After a few years in the wilderness, we now have a process in place to ensure they are as correct as they can be.”
While being “carved in stone” is supposed to mean that something is permanent and final, our duty to maintain our records to the best of our ability means that corrections and additions will occasionally need to be made. Requests for additions and amendments can be made to our Online Cenotaph team, who undertake research to confirm further details. You don’t have to be a relative of a serviceperson to request an addition: “It’s not always families. Sometimes the wider community advocates for service people who have lost their familial connections,” Passau adds.
The combination of our remarkable building’s heritage status as well as the time- and labour-intensive art of heritage stonemasonry means that it is simply not possible to update the Halls annually. “Every architectural element is heritage listed, including the names on the walls, and each element requires protection and careful consideration. It’s not the same as changing the label in a gallery.” While the Museum has committed to make changes to the names every three years, this process is subject to review.
The corrections and amendments are being undertaken by an expert stonemason, Marcus Wainwright, who specialises in heritage stone restorations, over a period of ten days in the lead-up to this year’s Anzac Day commemorations.
You can find more information on how to request a correction or addition here.
The names being added or corrected are:
South African War
John Vaille Douglas Aitken-Connell
First World War
Alfred Robert Francis Harding
Isaac Chadwick Taylor
Second World War
Cedric William Clare
Ronald James Lichtwark
Leslie Desmond Monkley
Ernest Desmond Rimoldi
Richard Harold Yeoman
Alan Frederick McCook
Frederick William Parker
Thomas Te Hau Taiatini
William Todd Lawson Richardson Hamilton
Graham Rangi Morrison Thomas
Edward William Allnatt
Peter James Mollison