Tier 1 events
- 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Māori language petition and first Māori Language Day
Tier 2 events
- 25th anniversaries of Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language and Dictionary of New Zealand English
- 50th anniversary of equal pay legislation
- 75th anniversary of Ballantyne’s fire
- 50th anniversary of first national kapa haka competition (now known as Te Matatini)
- 75th anniversary of the formation of the National Symphony Orchestra (now New Zealand Symphony Orchestra)
- 100th anniversary of radio broadcasting
Commemoration means marking an important historical event on or around a meaningful anniversary. Commemoration brings people together in physical and virtual spaces to reflect on the past and its relevance to the present. There doesn’t have to be a formal remembrance ceremony or a physical monument – commemoration could involve sharing historical information through a website, or creating artistic works that respond to an anniversary, for example.
The New Zealand Government has a policy on the commemoration of historical anniversaries, first developed in 2009, updated in 2014 and refreshed in 2022. Under this policy, a list of anniversaries to be commemorated is agreed several years in advance. This allows coordination and planning of government involvement in commemoration to take place.
2023 – 27 commemorations programme (PDF 34KB)
How anniversaries are chosen
From 2023, the policy no longer categorises anniversaries as Tier 1 or Tier 2 but takes a theme-based approach to tell connected stories across multiple anniversaries. Themes on the commemoration calendar may include anniversaries within a single year or across multiple years.
Anniversaries on the Government’s list should generally be:
- of significance to the nation as a whole
- of events that took place in New Zealand, involved New Zealanders or have a clear connection to New Zealand
- a multiple of 25 years since the event in question (e.g. 25th, 50th, 100th anniversaries)
- representative of the diversity of New Zealanders’ historical experiences.
Occasionally, as with the centenary of the First World War between 2014-2019, dedicated funding may be available to support commemorations. However, most commemorative activity is funded from within departmental baselines.
Some commemorations take place annually: for example, Waitangi Day commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Anzac Day commemorates New Zealanders’ involvement in war, and Matariki marks the Māori New Year.
Pukeahu National War Memorial Park also hosts a number of annual military commemorations. All scheduled national commemorations will appear on the Pukeahu website.
Te Pūtake o te Riri, He Rā Maumhara, was observed for the first time in 2018. It is the national day of commemoration for the New Zealand Wars, and takes place on 28 October. Visit Te Puni Kōkiri’s website for more information about this commemoration, and about Te Pūtake o te Riri | Wars and Conflicts in New Zealand Fund.
There are many important anniversaries every year, and it is not possible to include them all on the government’s commemorations programme. Organisations outside government may decide to mark these anniversaries, and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage is always happy to hear about community-led commemorations. The Ministry may, for example, be able to publicise such commemorations through its online channels.
New Zealanders' views on commemoration
In 2019, Colmar Brunton conducted a public opinion survey for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, looking at New Zealanders’ views on commemoration. The final report on the survey's findings is available here:
Updated on 15th July 2022