On 24 July 2017 the UK Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was unveiled by visiting Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP.
Former Minister Gerry Brownlee and UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson laying wreaths at the unveiling ceremony.
At almost five metres tall, the design takes the form of two of the United Kingdom and New Zealand’s most iconic trees. The trunks of a Royal Oak and a Pōhutukawa intertwine to form one single leafy canopy, where leaves from both trees merge to create sense of shelter - giving the memorial its name: Whakaruruhau. Standing at the plaque, between the branches a silhouette of a single soldier can be seen, representing the union of two countries who stood side by side and those millions who served in times of conflict, resolution and peace.
View of the UK Memorial showing the silhouette of a single soldier in the top branches.
The multicoloured canopy is lit at night from underneath and by the sun during the day. It has been likened to being in a church with stained glass windows when the light comes in. The memorial has been designed for people to enjoy being under it and sitting near it, as they would with a real tree.
The Weta Workshop-designed and built sculpture was 13,000 hours and four years in the making. The design also had input from students at Massey University and the British Wimbledon College of Art and was built to withstand Wellington winds.
It is 7m long and the canopy weighs 2.5 tonnes, with the trunks weighing in at 1.7 tonnes. The memorial is made from mild steel, bronze and polycarbonates and weighs two and a half tonnes. It is one of the largest sculptures Weta Workshop has ever created and had a team of 100 crew members bringing the concept to a virtual reality and physical presence.
The UK Memorial was commissioned to honour the shared sacrifices by New Zealanders and Britons in conflicts over the past century. It is the third overseas memorial to be erected at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
Updated on 16th August 2023