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National monuments & war graves

We remember contributions to New Zealand's development as a nation by caring for national monuments and memorials.

Dunedin's Andersons Bay cemetery featuring some of the war graves cared for by the Ministry.

The Ministry looks after historic graves and monuments in over 81 sites throughout New Zealand. A large number of these originate from the New Zealand Wars of 1840-1872 including the  Katikara Memorial which marks the grave of more than 20 Māori warriors, and the graves at Opepe, on the Napier - Taupo road. Others were erected to Māori leaders favoured by the Crown such as the memorial at   Pāpāwai Pā near Greytown, to Ngāti Kahungunu leader Hamuera Tamahau Mahupuku.

We also care for various national monuments erected by the New Zealand government. Many of these commemorate former Prime Ministers such as Michael Joseph Savage, Richard Seddon and William Massey.

The Ministry is the New Zealand agent for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). As agents for the CWGC we are responsible for graves of personnel who died between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921 and 3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947. In addition to the CWGC war graves, we are also responsible for the graves and memorials of all those who have died in wartime from the New Zealand wars of the 1800s through to the most recent casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. We liaise with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and can assist with locating overseas war graves if you are visiting Commonwealth cemeteries.

War graves are for those who died on active service or a consequence of injury or illness from their war service. Veterans' Affairs New Zealand helps look after Services Cemeteries and are able to assist in contributing towards memorial plaques and headstones.

Veterans' Affairs New Zealand website

Earlier projects included establishing the  Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in 2004, unveiling New Zealand Memorials in Korea in 2005 and London in 2006. We also helped establish the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial in 2017 with Christchurch City Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Others commemorate disasters such as the memorial at Karori Cemetery to those killed in the  1953 Tangiwai railway disaster or relate to twentieth century wars, such as the  Atatürk Memorial on Wellington's south coast, which commemorates Kemal Atatürk, commander of the Turkish forces at Gallipoli in 1915.

Related webpages

A list of historic graves and monuments

A list of national monuments

Anzac Commemorative Site, Gallipoli

Atatürk Memorial

Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Katikara Memorial

Mahupuku Memorial

Massey Memorial

National Erebus Memorial (In progress)

New Zealand Memorial, Canberra

New Zealand Memorial in Korea

New Zealand Memorial in London

Opepe Memorial

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Savage Memorial

Seddon Memorial

Tangiwai Memorial

Wakefield family grave

Updated on 29th March 2023