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The top floor of the Museum is dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers and included within the war memorial galleries is the spectacular World War One Hall of Memories.
The World War One Hall of Memories includes a memorial sanctuary which is used significantly for commemoration.
New Zealand sent more men to fight in the First World War, per head of population, than any other nation. 18,166 New Zealanders died from a country of only one million.
The grieving was made harder for New Zealand families because nearly all those killed were buried overseas. 5,325 New Zealand soldiers almost a third of all those killed - have no known grave. Families therefore had nowhere to focus their grief and say goodbye to their loved ones.
For this reason, a large number of war memorials were built around New Zealand, which acted as symbolic graveyards for grieving families. But New Zealand was also very proud of the bravery of our diggers and wanted to celebrate their heroism. Thus war memorials came to fill an uneasy dual role, at once glorifying war as heroic and yet bemoaning the waste of human life.
The Roll of Honour is engraved in white Sicilian marble slabs on the wall encircling the top floor. The letters have been cut into the face of the marble and inset with bronze leaf. The marble used for the Roll of Honour was imported in rough hewn, unfinished blocks in order to provide employment for New Zealand workers and save on duty tax.
Two large leather-bound volumes on either side of the altar, also contain the Auckland Roll of Honour. The pages are turned every month. The leaves of these volumes are made of vellum. Whereas only surnames and initials were used in the engraved Roll of Honour, the book form contains the Christian name of each man, his regimental number, unit, rank, honours, and next of kin. Major P. B. Greenhough painstakingly handwrote the Roll.
The Roll of Honour lists the names of all the servicemen and women killed who registered in the Auckland Province. Aucklanders who registered in another province will be represented on that province's War Memorial.
The shrine in the World War Sanctuary was designed by the architects Grierson, Aimer and Draffin. A bronze wreath of kawakawa leaves, (a symbol of mourning), with olive, poppy and rosemary surmounting a bronze tripod, was designed and executed from the architect drawings by the sculptor Richard O. Gross. The inscription reads "Kia Mate Toa", meaning "be strong in death" and it sits on a dais of blue Belgian marble (a black marble veined with white). Symbolising remembrance, pots of rosemary have been placed around the walls.
The flags in the World War One Sanctuary represent some of the Allied Nations during the First World War. Read about why some flags are included and others may appear to be missing here.
The spectacular stained glass lead light ceiling directly above the entrance foyer shows the Coat of Arms of all British Dominions and Colonies during the First World War.
Underneath the stained glass ceiling are golden badges of the units, regiments and corps in which men and women from the Auckland Province served. British badges acknowledge those who joined British units.