Building name: World War I Memorial
Address: The Square
Construction date: 1925
Architect: Sculptor - FV Blundstone
Architectural style: Stripped Classical
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 24
Heritage NZ Category: 1
Shortly after the end of World War I Palmerston North's citizens, in common with those in most New Zealand towns, wanted to erect a memorial to their fallen. A public meeting in 1920 began fundraising for the monument and a memorial committee was formed, but it wasn't until late 1923 that a design was decided upon. A replica of the Folkestone memorial, designed by British sculptor EV Blundstone, was chosen by two local citizens who visited the site in Britain in 1923. The memorial was expected to cost £5000 and would be sculpted in England. The official fund raising campaign was 7 December 1923 and the fund quickly stood at £2800. With the fund nearing its target it was decided to erect the monument in the exact middle of the Square. To accommodate the structure the Railways Department had to move the line that ran through the Square. The line was expected to have been moved at some point in the future anyway but after considerable disagreement the track was moved and the monument built. Work was completed in November 1925. Dissent did not end there, however. The dimensions of the monument disappointed a great many people and contrary to expectations, and despite its prime site, it could not be seen from most vantage points around, the Square. Efforts, particularly by some Councillors, to have the monument moved immediately failed and it remains in the Square, the rail long gone.
The design of the base to the statue follows the style of Lutyens in his Stripped Classical war memorials with the Cenotaph at Whitehall a likely, precedent. The design precedes, but is similar in some ways to Art Deco. Stepped horizontal rectangular forms define the base upon which rests the central vertical pedestal with the relaxed victorious bronze statue of a woman holding a pennant and wreath. The pedestal to the statue is not high, unlike the Lutyens style of memorial; an increase in height would have emphasised the verticality of the statue. The Palmerston North Borough Council Badge is carved in relief near the top of the pedestal. Brass reliefs and inscriptions are located on the base. The heavily rusticated base is contrasted by the smooth ashlar granite above.
Summary of heritage values
The memorial commemorates the lives of Palmerston North and Kairanga County citizens killed in WWI and therefore has symbolic and patriotic values.
The monument is associated with those people who lost their lives in WW I, and the designer and scuIptor
The forms of the monument follow the precedent set by previous memorials such as those designed by Lutyens using a Stripped Classical style and materials appropriate to a lasting monument, and located in an appropriate location.
The memorial is original, and is a representative example of a WW I memorial.
The memorial has educational and Social values.
Statement of Significance
This monument is an important community commemoration of the town's World War I dead. Monuments like these were built all over New Zealand and serve as a reminder of the huge effect both World Wars had on this country. The memorial is a good design using appropriate materials and in an appropriate location. The subject of considerable controversy both before and after its erection, in the choice of design, the monument reflects the lingering attachment this country had to England.
Bradfield AGS, 1956, Forgotten Days, The Author, Palmerston North.