The National War Memorial Building is currently closed to the public due to concerns about its resilience in an earthquake.

A new detailed seismic assessment of the National War Memorial’s Carillon Tower completed in 2020 found it to have a seismic strength of 15% of the New Building Standard (NBS). All buildings with a rating of less than 34% are considered earthquake prone. 

The wider Pukeahu National War Memorial park and the Queen Elizabeth II Pukeahu Education Centre remain open.

What is the risk?

The main issue identified in the detailed seismic assessment is around the internal bell-frames of the Carillon Tower and how they would perform in an earthquake. These steel frames support the 74 bells making up the Carillon.

If an element of the bell-frames failed, there is a risk that one of the bells, or other material, could fall into the foyer of the Carillon Tower which is main entry to the National War Memorial. This could pose a significant risk to anyone in the foyer at the time.

The building is structurally sound in normal circumstances.

Is the whole National War Memorial an earthquake prone building?

No. The National War Memorial is made up of two adjacent but distinct buildings. The Carillon Tower which was opened in 1932 and the Hall of Memories which was added in 1964.

  • The Carillon Tower was assessed in 2020 as having an overall seismic rating of 15% NBS.  This means it is earthquake prone.
  • The Hall of Memories has a seismic rating of 100% NBS, having undergone significant strengthening between 2012-2015.

Is there any risk to people walking past the building?

While there is no information to suggest there is any risk to visitors to the park or walking near the National War Memorial Building in the event of an earthquake people near the Carillon Tower are advised to immediately Drop, Cover and Hold.

What does an earthquake rating tell us?

An earthquake rating is a measure of how well a building is expected to perform in an earthquake compared to an equivalent new building. NBS stands for New Building Standard. Buildings with a rating of less than 34% NBS are considered earthquake prone.

Seismic ratings are calculated by structural engineers. You can read the full detailed seismic assessment prepared by Manatū Taonga’s engineers Dunning Thornton here [PDF 21MB]

Can I still visit Pukeahu National War Memorial Park?

Yes, while the National War Memorial building is closed, the wider park is open. The Park is home to a number of contemporary memorials acknowledging countries which share military history with New Zealand. The site of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park itself has a long and rich history. The Ngā Tapuwae o Te Kahui Maunga gardens amongst other memorials in the Park explore the deep connections between mana whenua and the surrounding area.

Can school groups still visit Pukeahu National War Memorial Park?

Yes, the Queen Elizabeth II Education Centre at Pukeahu is still available to host school groups. All our programmes are being adapted to reflect the current closure of the National War Memorial Building. The Pukeahu educator is available to answer any questions you may have. Email: [email protected]

How long will the National War Memorial building be closed?

The National War Memorial has been closed since February 2020 and at this time no date for its reopening can be made. The safety of staff and the public will be paramount in any decision to reopen.

Updates will be provided on this website and on the Pukeahu Facebook page

How much will it cost to strengthen the Carillon Tower and how long will it take?

Manatū Taonga is still working through the detailed planning and costings for the strengthening work required on the Carillon Tower. The costs and the timeline aren’t yet known.

If the National War Memorial building remains closed, where will national commemorations be held?

National commemorations will continue to take place at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior within Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Wasn’t the National War Memorial closed for earthquake strengthening a while ago?

The earthquake strengthening currently being planned for the Carillon Tower is part of a wider programme of earthquake strengthening and refurbishment work which began at the National War Memorial in 2011. This work has been done in a staged way due to the complexity of the building, the costs involved, and a desire to maintain public access where possible. Significant work has already been undertaken and the Hall of Memories now carries a rating of 100% NBS.

The revised deadline for all the seismic strengthening work is May 2027. This timeline has been set by Wellington City Council in accordance with legislation concerning earthquake prone buildings. 

What if I want to know more?


Updated on 18th November 2021