Pukeahu National War Memorial Park - Morrie Love

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:08 pm on 12 April 2015

Morrie three
Morrie Love stands beside the bronze statue, Hinerangi by Te Atiawa, Ngāti Ranginui artist, Darcy Nicholas.

On March 25th this year, the official dawn blessing ceremony took place at the Pukeahu National War Memorial park, Buckle Street in Wellington. Built above the Arras Tunnel, the park provides a space for recreational activity and reflection. The park is very much still a work in progress according to Wellington Tenths Trust Chairman Morrie Love.

Guests outside the National War Memorial, during the pre-dawn blessing ceremony of the opening of the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

Guests outside the National War Memorial during the pre-dawn blessing ceremony. Photo: RNZ / Paloma Migone

The blessing ceremony itself was attended by up to six hundred people, but it will officially open on the 18th April 2015. There are a few intricate details to the park, bricks made by Parihaka descendants who were imprisoned at the Mount Cook Gaol, after the sacking of Parihaka, are set inside the concrete wall.

Mr Love explains that part of their work was to collect clay from Pukeahu and make bricks for the government of the time. Upon close inspection, some of the bricks have fingerprints and in some, an arrow symbol is indicative the brick was made by a prisoner.

Three Toka (boulders) from Taranaki and Ruapehu are placed directly in front of the wall with words taken from whakatāuki (proverbs) that relate to Parihaka Tupuna Te Whiti o Rongomai, The Māori contingent at World War I and the 28th Maori Battalion of World War II. The Toka weigh up to 14 tonne, and carved intricately inside the rocks are imagery of the arrival of Tupuna Maori to Aotearoa.

On an overcast morning Morrie Love explains the design of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and the collaborative effort of māori artists and local tangata whenua.