The French Memorial was jointly unveiled by Mrs Geneviève Darrieussecq, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Armed Forces (France) and Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Justice, Courts and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations on 04 May 2018.
Minister Andrew Little and Minister Geneviève Darrieussecq at the unveiling of the French Memorial.
An exceptional 43 entries were submitted by New Zealand and international teams in response to an architectural competition launched by the French government on April 25th 2016.
Designed by Auckland-based architectural firm Patterson Associates Ltd, with Paul Baragwanath and Suzanne Turley Landscapes, Le Calligramme evokes the bonds forged between New Zealand and France with a simple and striking design inscribed with the words of French soldier Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1915 poem ‘Le Chant de l’Honneur’ (Song of Honour). The memorial combines extensive landscaping with two large elements made of local stone and crushed French Combe Brune stone from the Western Front.
View at the unveiling of the French Memorial on 04 May 2018.
Le Calligrame's spatial composition consists of three elegant components, soft landscaping, a honed plinth, and an intricate floating tabula. Narrative engagement is augmented by an audio and light presentation. Five stanzas raise lives above the earth and into our consciousness, creating space to encounter the blank loss of war with the hope of today, provoking a deeply spatial, temporal and emotional engagement integrated into the experience of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
A whakataukī, 'Haere whakamua, titiro whakamuri' – which urges us to walk into the future, with our eyes open to the past.
The French Memorial is a gift from France to New Zealand and is testimony to the friendship forged between our two countries since the First World War. Nearly 8,000 New Zealanders lost their lives in France during two world wars, more than in any other country.
Earlier ceremonies included the French Secretary of State for Veterans and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini unveiling a plaque in November 2016 and stones imbued with the mauri or life force of the memorial along with French limestone being buried at the memorial site in December 2017.
The former French Ambassador, HE Florence Jeanblanc-Risler placing French limestone into the site in December 2017.
In 2019 the French Memorial received the Landscaping Award as part of the Concrete NZ awards held every two years.
Updated on 15th January 2020