News | 16 March 2016

The National War Memorial becomes a canvas for multimedia Anzac commemorations

A stunning image and sound event at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park will give people another opportunity to remember and pay tribute to these Anzac commemorations.

Image by Matt Grace, WWI Remembered: A Light and Sound Show 2015

Presented by Wellington City Council, WWI Remembered: A Light and Sound Show 2016 highlights New Zealand’s enormous contribution to the war during 1916 and 1917.

Tens of thousands visited WWI Remembered: A Light and Sound Show in 2015. This year’s projections will light up the National War Memorial from 21-24 April, 7pm until 10pm, 25 April 6pm until 10pm and will play on a 15 minute loop.

In 1916, New Zealand experienced its first major engagement on the Western Front – the Battle of the Somme. The battle took a huge toll on the 15,000 members of the Division that was involved. Nearly 6000 were wounded and 2000 lost their lives. 

It was in this year too that HMS New Zealand joined the British battle fleet in the Battle of Jutland. The battlecruisers, which New Zealand funded the construction of and gifted to the British Navy, was the only ship to come out largely unscathed with everyone onboard surviving. Some attribute this to piupiu and hei-tiki gifted to the captain before the ship departed New Zealand shores.   

Among the stories highlighted is that of the NZ Tunnellers. Officers of the NZ Tunnelling Company discovered a series of quarries under the French town of Arras that dated back to medieval times. The New Zealand ‘Diggers’ created an underground city that could house 25,000 soldiers and create a safe and secret route to the front line. Wellington’s Arras Tunnel, which passes under Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, was named to honour the ‘Diggers’ wartime efforts.

WWI Remembered also acknowledges the first New Zealand Anzac Day Service, on 25 April 1916, which recognised the landing of the Anzacs at Gallipoli the year before. This became a means of rallying support for the war effort and a public expression of grief – as no bodies were brought home.

Council spokesperson and Project Manager Dilys Grant says the show will be a mixture of photos, graphics, animation and original artwork including work by artists Ngataiharuru Taepa and Michel Tuffery. These will be shown alongside a new soundscape composed by two founding members of Rhombus, Thomas Voyce and Koa Williams.

“We can’t tell the whole story, so we’re highlighting human elements and looking at details that feel more personal. We’ve used photos by Brett Killington of art drawn on the Arras tunnels by the New Zealand ‘Diggers’ and artwork from soldiers on the Western Front. We’re going from the ocean, to the land and underground.”

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says she’s looking forward to the new light and sound show, which will portray poignant memories of a century ago. 

“This public art will connect crowds of thousands together and evoke the personal tragedies of war.

“Pukeahu, the National War Memorial Park, is a beautiful place for creativity to tell the stories of our past,” she says. “The capital city provides an amazing canvas for citizenship and nationhood."

With support from New Zealand’s First World War Centenary Programme (WW100), images from Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails will be included in the show.

Ngā Tapuwae (the footsteps) gives people the opportunity to follow the New Zealand soldiers as they travelled through the Western Front. The trails use captivating audio guides, interactive maps and soldier’s personal stories to bring historic events to life.

Visitors to the show will also be able to use an iPad to explore historic First World War sites with the Ngā Tapuwae Western Front app.

WWI Remembered: A Light and Sound Show 2016 is presented by Wellington City Council and developed by Sarah Hunter of Transmit Ltd. Thanks to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library, the New Zealand Defence Force, Te Papa Tongarewa, and WW100 for their support.