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Carillon Tower seismic strengthening project

The need to make the Carillon Tower safe

The Carillon is a musical instrument made up of 74 bells. It is housed in the Carillon Tower, the centrepiece of the National War Memorial at Pukeahu in Wellington.

Serving as a memorial for all New Zealanders who have lost their lives in military conflict, the National War Memorial is one of New Zealand’s most significant heritage sites. The music of the Carillon is a key function for ceremonies and commemorations that are hosted at the National War Memorial.

The National War Memorial Carillon

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

When assessed in 2020, the tower was found to be earthquake prone. However, following updated engineering advice in 2022 and new guidance from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Hall of Memories has reopened, specifically for commemorations and ceremonies. 

A seismic strengthening project is currently underway to perform the work required to reopen the entire National War Memorial building. 

The deadline for completing the work is May 2027, but we hope to have the strengthening completed well before then.

The rest of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is still open for visitors.

Carillon Tower strengthening

Project goals

This project will ensure the Carillon tower and bell-frames are strengthened so the National War Memorial is safe, accessible and resilient, without compromising its heritage value.

The project will also:

  • Maintain the value of the landscape and environment of the park will be maintained
  • Ensure the Carillon will be playable
  • Ensure the National War Memorial will be fully usable for ceremonies and commemorations.

We are confident the tower is structurally sound in normal circumstances, and there is no risk to people using the park.

Project stages

This project commenced in mid 2023 and has six phases.

  1. Planning
  2. Investigation
  3. Design and review
  4. Consent and procurement
  5. Construction
  6. Reopening

We are currently in Phase 3, design and review.  

Based on the recommendations in the 2022 engineer’s report, a ‘viscous dampers’ seismic strengthening solution has been selected, which involves installing shock absorbers to reduce the movement caused by a large earthquake.  

We're working with the design team (which includes structural engineers, heritage architects and other experts) to develop a detailed design of the strengthening solution.

In addition to the strengthening work, we are planning to replace the Carillon’s upper bell frame, conduct remedial works on the lower bell frame, and also carry out various other maintenance works around the building.

The project must be completed by May 2027, but we intend to carry out the work as soon as possible and reopen well before then. The estimated cost is $7.2 million.

Get project updates

Updates will be posted here and on Pukeahu’s Facebook.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park – Facebook

If you want to receive a project newsletter, email us at [email protected] and just ask to be added to the list.

Updated on 5th May 2023