On 10 December 2018, the U.S. Memorial representing the United States and New Zealand's shared history was unveiled at Pukeahu. Guests present at the ceremony included the Minister of Defence Ron Mark, U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown and guest of honour Randall G. Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. Michael Conley, Chief of Staff, American Battle Monuments Commission was the Master of Ceremonies.

United States Ambassador Scott Brown said the bedrock foundation of the U.S. and New Zealand relationship was forged during World War II when more than 150,000 American service personnel came to New Zealand. “This memorial honours our shared history, the values we share, and our ongoing commitment to making our world a better place. It provides an important place for Americans and Kiwis to visit and reflect for many generations to come".

Guests arriving at the unveiling of the U.S. Memorial in December 2018.

The U.S. Memorial was designed by Monica Ponce de Leon, a Venezuelan-American architect and Dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture, who was also present at the unveiling.  Monica Ponce de Leon worked with landscape architects, Landworks Studio and was supported by Wellington architect Sam Kebbell.

The design was commissioned by the U.S. Government and the American Battle Monuments Commission. Since 1923 the Commission has worked to fulfil its charter, to commemorate the service, achievements and sacrifice of America’s armed forces who have served overseas.

The memorial is placed to draw people into an area of reflection. The entry pathways give way to a spiralling slope that will guide visitors around a gentle mound until, at the far end of the path, there is a tablet with a passage to help them focus on remembrance. The memorial’s granite tablet was carved in Madison, Wisconsin.

The words on the tablet are taken from a radio address delivered on Anzac Day 1943, by then U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, and read:

Together, in our strength, we shall keep that ocean – Pacific! ... As we are comrades in battle, so we shall be partners in victory. I salute the lands of the ANZACs as our companions in the peace that will follow, comrades and partners as an example to all the world of what can be accomplished by a fraternity of free men.

U.S. Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Earlier in April 2018, the memorial design was jointly unveiled by the U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown and Admiral Harry Harris, United States Pacific Command, who was visiting New Zealand. Prior to the unveiling, the stones imbued with the mauri or life force of the memorial were buried at the site. The short ceremony which paid respect to Papatūānuku, Māori earth mother, was led by Taranaki Whānui’s Peter Jackson who blessed the site and laid stones from the Taranaki region, preparing it for the construction of the monument. Admiral Harris brought stones from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to lay in the earth and spoke about the enduring partnership between New Zealand and the United States. He cited conflicts where the two nations have fought alongside each other; scientific research in Antarctica; and disaster and emergency assistance including the participation of the USS Sampson in relief efforts in the wake of the Kaikoura earthquake in November 2016.

Blessing of the U.S. Memorial site in April 2018.

The U.S. Memorial is the sixth to take its place at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, accompanying those from Australia, Belgium, France, Türkiye and the United Kingdom.

Related links

NZHistory - US forces in New Zealand

U.S. Memorial design for Pukeahu National War Memorial Park unveiled

U.S. Memorial for Pukeahu National War Memorial Park unveiled

Updated on 27th April 2023