Hon Carmel Sepuloni
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
25 October 2018PĀNUI PĀPĀHO
Pacific Islands Memorial design unveiled
The design for a Pacific Islands Memorial in Pukeahu National War Memorial Park was announced today by Associate
Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Carmel Sepuloni.
“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.
The design was selected by a five person judging panel, chaired by His Excellency Hon Fisa Pihigia, High Commissioner
“I’m delighted with the panel’s choice. This was a challenging brief to design a memorial to represent not a single
country, but to reflect and acknowledge our close relationship with and the diversity of the Pacific nations.
“The Pacific Islands Memorial will be an exciting addition to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. Australia, Turkey, the
UK, Belgium and France have already contributed national memorials at Pukeahu. The US memorial is due to be unveiled
before the end of the year,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
The project to build the memorial was run by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Ministry for Pacific
Peoples and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with support from the New Zealand Institute of Architects.
The Pacific Islands Memorial will be unveiled in late April 2019.
Illustrations of the Pacific Island Memorial Design can be found here
The design brief for the memorial is here
Design team biographies:
Michel Tuffery MNZM, MFA (Hons) - Born in Wellington, Michel Tuffery is of Samoan, Rarotongan and Ma’ohi Tahitian Heritage. A keen historian and active
participant in contemporary culture is at the core of Michel Tuffery’s accomplished multi-disciplinary art practice. His
art holds a deep commitment not just to the peoples of the Pacific, but to the environment. Michel Tuffery’s artwork is
curated into major international exhibitions and public collections, qualifying him to undertake residencies in the USA,
Europe, United Kingdom, Southeast and East Asia, Australia, Melanesia, Polynesia and French Polynesia. In 2008 Michel
Tuffery was appointed as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to art.
Recent projects include:
• MPA#1, Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
• Nga Kete, Bronze Sculpture Commission, Otago Polytech Te Kura Matatini ki Otago,
• Cook and the Pacific, National Library Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia
• Uncharted, Essential Media, Sydney, Australia
• Pelagic birds beyond Fanua, Wild Creations ‘artist in residence’ Creative New Zealand partnership with
Department of Conservation program, Taiaroa Head and Rakiura (Stewart Island)
• James Cook – The Voyages, The British Library, London, United Kingdom
• Tupaia’s Endeavour, 3 episode series, co-narrator and artist, Island Productions
John Melhuish, Director, Herriot + Melhuish Architecture - John Melhuish, NZ Registered Architect, Fellow of the NZIA, manages the Wellington studio with Max Herriot. Prior to
co-founding Herriot + Melhuish Architecture in 1997, John Melhuish worked for a decade for one of New Zealand’s most
high profile practices, Athfield Architects. Sir Ian Athfield (1940-2015) was a mentor; his design philosophy and studio
culture is an ongoing inspiration for the practice. The work of the practice displays a particular interest in
mid-century modernism and the contemporary adaptive re-use of heritage buildings. He believes in a strong emphasis on
the craft of detail throughout the design process. John Melhuish is currently chair of the Building Research Advisory
Council for BRANZ.
Contextual information from the design team - A Taonga connecting communities - The memorial sculpture takes the form of a conch shell or Triton Trumpet (Charonia Tritonis), a symbol that is deeply
rooted in Pacific cultures. The status of the conch shell is well known for its formality within traditional ceremonial
occasions, appearing on many national currencies, is extensively referenced within literature and rendered as tourist
trade objects. As a motif the conch shell holds widespread familiarity, and will resonate with young and old, to
different audiences at different levels.
The artist has also been drawn to this form for its special Pacific connection to La Carrière Wellington, Arras, France.
During the First World War, an iconic conch shell was left behind in the tunnel system by one of the three Kuki Airani
soldiers enlisted with The New Zealand Tunnelling Company and the New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion. Stationed
beneath the town of Arras, between November 1916 to July 1918, their mission was to extend a network of existing tunnels
in preparation for an Allied offensive against the Germans on the Western Front, these tunnels housed more than 20,000
The Arras tunnels were rediscovered in 1990, and with few physical traces left behind by the New Zealand forces on the
Western Front, a conch shell was found beneath ‘tags’ carved into the chalk wall by Cook Islanders, Solomona Isaac
16/1033 and Angene Angene 16/1205, along with the Lord’s Prayer in Ma’ohi Tahitian. This stirring story, with all that
it represents, inspired the artist to further explore this history leading to him joining with dignitaries and
descendants in Arras in April 2017, for a moving commemoration of their whanau. The literal connection to Wellington’s
Arras Tunnel, running beneath Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, significantly draws a direct connection to WWI and
embraces all subsequent campaigns.
Collective and Collaborative - Extensive research spanning more than 10 years has led the artist to this memorial sculpture concept. The design draws
from collated records, documentation and stories of Pacific servicemen and women. From their respective Islands of
origin throughout Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, they willingly served in campaigns across many continents often
as part of New Zealand’s forces. The artist also acknowledges that some of these servicemen and women included Europeans
who were living in the Pacific during those times of conflict. This memorial sculpture is intended to embrace and
recognise all who contributed.
Judging Panel members - Chaired by His Excellency Hon Fisa Pihigia, High Commissioner for Niue, the judging panel included architect Andrew Tu’inukuafe, landscape architect Jacky Bowring, curator Leafa Wilson and
artist Leilani Kake.