The Ministry ran an open architectural design competition to find a winning design for a Pacific Islands Memorial to be installed at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. The design for a Pacific Islands Memorial at Pukeahu was announced by Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Carmel Sepuloni in October 2018.

“The Pacific Islands Memorial symbolises our close relationship with the Pacific and the service of Pacific peoples in the New Zealand Defence Force in the two World Wars and in other conflicts.” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Congratulations to Michel Tuffery MNZM and Herriot, Melhuish and O’Neil Architects for their stunning design – 'Te Reo Hotunui o Te Moana nui a Kiwa' which translates to 'The deep sigh of the Pacific'.

“The memorial takes the form of a conch shell, an iconic Pacific symbol. It is used across the region in formal traditional ceremonies. The conch shell is beautiful in its natural form and will be spectacular at massive scale alongside the other national memorials at Pukeahu".

Read the full story - Design for Pacific Islands Memorial revealed.

Conch shell

Te Reo Hotunui o Te Moana nui a Kiwa, or ‘the deep sigh of the Pacific’ will take the form of a bronze conch shell.

Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is the national place for New Zealanders to remember and reflect on this country’s experience of war, military conflict and peacekeeping and how this experience shapes our ideals and sense of national identity.

The memorials in Pukeahu National War Memorial Park stand as symbols of our shared experiences, as well as our enduring friendships and commitment to peace and international cooperation. This new memorial will recognise our closest friends, the Pacific nations.

The Pacific Islands Memorial will represent New Zealand’s friendship with all Pacific Island countries and in particular will recognise the service of Pacific Islanders in the New Zealand Defence Forces.

The Design Brief Document provides all information on the competition including background, dates and design criteria.

For information on New Zealand’s shared history with the Pacific Islands see NZHistory and Te Ara.


Information on Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is available on the Ministry's website:

  • Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was opened in April 2015 in the precinct surrounding the National War Memorial in Wellington.
  • One of the goals for Pukeahu was to create a space in Wellington for the development of new memorials from countries which New Zealand has a close military relationship with or a shared military history.
  • To date six international memorials have been installed within Pukeahu, these are: Australia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, and United States of America.

Judging Panel Members

The winning design for this memorial was selected by a five-person panel who bring together a huge depth of experience in art, design, architecture and include a Pacific Island community representative.

Chair: His Excellency Hon Fisa Pihigia, High Commissioner for Niue

Hon. Fisa Pihigia has more than 20 years of experience working in the Niuean Government across several offices. He became a Member of Parliament in 1990 as a Common Roll Member of the Niue Legislative Assembly. Appointed as a Cabinet Minister his portfolio included Business Sector Relations, Broadcasting Cooperation and Public Works. Fisa Pihigia is a strong and enthusiastic supporter of community engagement, participation and development through all spheres from educational, social, spiritual and physical.

Andrew Tu’inukuafe

Tongan lineage Andrew Tu’inukuafe is a registered architect based in Auckland currently working as an Interiors Principal with Warren and Mahoney. He believes collaborative partnerships are important to the successful delivery of designs. The winner of several design awards Andrew Tu’inukuafe has studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and has also worked in the UK and the USA.

Jacky Bowring

Jacky Bowring is a registered landscape architect and Professor of Landscape Architecture at Lincoln University. Her research and interests include cultural landscape, history memory and emotion. With a strong interest in the design of places for memory, she has been successful in a range of competitions including as a finalist in the Pentagon Memorial Design Competition. Jacky Bowring is editor of the international journal Landscape Review and was on the selection panel for Oi Manawa, the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial. 

Leilani Kake

Lens-based artist and educator, Leilani Kake has been working in the creative arts industry for more than 20 years in South Auckland. She has exhibited and presented at conferences both nationally and internationally with a focus on Pacific and Māori issues through personal experiences. Her most recent achievements have been the recipient of a UNESCO grant to represent Aotearoa at the Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development in New Delhi, November 2017 and participation in a group exhibition in the Toi Nga Puhi Arts Festival 2018.

Leafa Wilson 

Leafa Wilson (also known as Olga Krause) is an accomplished artist, curator and writer based in Waikato. In 2004, Wilson was appointed the role of Curator of Art at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, making her the first person of Pacific descent to hold an institutional role as an art curator. As an artist, Wilson is revered for her experimental performances and multi-media installations. She has exhibited widely and held artist residencies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane and the Burke Museum, Seattle, Washington. In 2016 her performance work ‘Thank You Mother India’ was performed at the Inaugural Morni Hills Performance Art Biennale, India. In 2017, Wilson’s most recent performance work ‘This Ain’t No Disco’ was performed in both Auckland and Christchurch as part of a group exhibition.

Design Brief

The Pacific Islands and New Zealand place great value on the significance of this memorial to celebrate the friendship between our countries and the close cultural, historical, economic and political ties between New Zealand and the Pacific nations.

Along with the International Memorials Selection, Location and Design Guidelines, key criteria required for the design are:

-        Represents all Pacific Island countries

-        Acknowledges the contribution of Pacific peoples in both World Wars and in other conflicts

-        Recognises and appreciates the diversity of Pacific countries

-        Represents the strong relationships across the region

-        Recognises New Zealand’s friendship with all Pacific Island countries

-        Recognises the service of Pacific Islanders in the New Zealand Defence Force

-        Is suitable for official ceremonies, for example, wreath laying ceremonies, and

-        Reflects the Pacific Islands, this could be in the design, materials used or symbols, or through the participation of a Pacific Island creative professional in the design.


Updated on 4th September 2019