Friday, September 8, 2023

New Zealand Memories — War Memorials and Military Museums






We (my wife and I) visited New Zealand for the first time 8 years ago in the year 2015. 

After two long flights by Korean Air – the first from Mumbai to Incheon (Seoul) of around 9 hours duration – then – a wait at Incheon Airport for 5 hours – followed by the Incheon to Auckland flight of almost 12 hours – we landed at Auckland International Airport New Zealand at 0800 Hrs (8 AM) local time on the 23rd of December 2015 – where our daughter was waiting for us with a friend who had brought his car along.

Since our Hotel ‘check-in’ was as 1400 Hrs (2 PM) – we decided to drive around Auckland and see the sights.

I fell in love with Auckland immediately.

From the aircraft we had seen sailboats below in the harbor – and we drove past these too – no wonder Auckland is called “city of sails”.

The city was very clean – the air was pure – the traffic very disciplined – and the people very courteous – and it was a pleasure to drive around and visit various places – an uplifting experience driving on the superb roads, winding their way in the hilly terrain amidst on the picturesque scenery.

Our magnanimous “host” took us on a drive through Auckland – and then we visited Mission Bay Beach – where we walked on the beach in the warm sun.

Then we drove down to St Heliers which has a magnificent Seafront and breathtaking Beach amidst green foliage.

Here  while walking at St. Heliers  by pure chance – I discovered the Achilles Memorial at Achilles Point commemorating the victory of HMS Achilles in the Battle of River Plate in World War 2. 

I was familiar with this warship – since – HMS Achilles was later transferred to the Indian Navy and commissioned as INS Delhi.

I discovered this “war memorial” by sheer chance – even our “host” who was driving us around did not know about it – and he had brought us here – since this was a scenic seaside spot and beach.

Achilles was originally built for the Royal Navy, and was commissioned as HMS Achilles on 10 October 1933. She would serve with the Royal Navy's New Zealand Division from 31 March 1937 onwards. Approximately 60 per cent of her crew was from New Zealand.

The Achilles Point Memorial commemorates the gallant performance of New Zealand Navy Sailors (and the supreme sacrifice of 4 martyrs) on HMS Achilles in the Battle of the River Plate in 1939 and in the South Atlantic in World War 2.

Later, after the creation of the Royal New Zealand Navy, HMS Achilles was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy in September 1941 and recommissioned HMNZS Achilles.

HMNZS Achilles was returned to the Royal Navy at the end of the Second World War.

In 1948 – HMS Achilles was sold to the Royal Indian Navy and recommissioned as HMIS Delhi.

In 1950 – the warship was renamed INS Delhi and remained in service until decommissioned on 30 June 1978. Most senior citizen Indian Navy Veterans (including those of my vintage) must have seen INS Delhi in service.

On 16 January 1940, in order to recognize and honour the role the New Zealand Crewed Ship HMS Achilles had played in the Battle of the River Plate, the first major naval battle of World War 2, which lead to the defeat of the German Cruiser Graf Spee, the Auckland City Council resolved to name the tip of the headland on the western side of the Tamaki River as Achilles Point

This vantage point enjoys commanding views of the Pacific Ocean over the Hauraki Gulf – and of Auckland City too.

On 13 December 1940 – a memorial was built at Achilles Point to commemorate the victory of HMS Achilles. Its structure took the form of a ship’s bow. The Achilles Point memorial plaque has the inscription:

“This Reserve is dedicated to commemorate the gallant performance of HMS Achilles and the bravery of her Captain, Officers and Ship's Company in the victorious naval battle fought in the South Atlantic off the River Plate on December 13th 1939...”

There is also a plaque in remembrance of the four Naval Ratings (Sailors) who sacrificed their lives during the Battle of the River Plate.

Here are a few pictures of the Achilles Memorial which I clicked on the 23rd of December 2015. 


Achilles Memorial

Commemorative Plaque - Achilles Point



Achilles Ship's Crest

Engraving HMS Achilles

Sea View From Memorial

View of Memorial with Pacific Ocean in Background

Achilles Point Commemorative Plaque

Parnell Rose Gardens Auckland

Next morning – we went on a morning walk from our hotel to the nearby Parnell Rose Gardens (Dove Myer Robinson Park) – and – we came across two war memorials in the garden.

Korean War Memorial


Netherlands Memorial

Simple Monument in Tranquil Surroundings


In the evening – we walked down to Newmarket – a posh market of Auckland – and – even there – I noticed a memorial in remembrance of soldiers who had laid down their lives for the nation. 

Newmarket Memorial


On the 25th of December 2015 – we flew down to Christchurch – and – on an evening stroll in Papanui – where our hotel was located – I discovered a memorial in the neighbourhood garden.

Papanui War Memorial Monument

As I traveled in New Zealand – I saw that every neighbourhood/borough/village has a garden – and in that garden – there is a sublime war memorial – on which are engraved the names of martyrs from the neighbourhood/borough/village.

These memorials to commemorate the supreme sacrifice of martyrs are simple, sober, solemn and dignified. There is no display of vulgar “jingoism” – and – these elegant unpretentious monuments of remembrance have an ambience of silence, dignity and solemnity about them.


In addition to these Spartan yet Dignified Memorials – I was fortunate to visit the magnificent “Auckland War Memorial Museum”

Completed in 1929 on the highest point on the Auckland Domain – the Auckland War Memorial Museum is an impressive structure – with its imposing neoclassical temple capped with an impressive copper-and-glass dome – dominates the Auckland Domain and is a prominent part of the Auckland skyline – especially when viewed from the Harbour.

After World War 2 – the building was extended to encompass war memorials for the over 4,000 Aucklanders who lost their lives in the Second World War. The semicircular extension at the rear of the building was opened in 1960 to provide space for the “World War 2 Hall of Memories” which now also encompasses the names of those martyred in subsequent conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

I shall write a detailed post on the Auckland War Memorial Museum later in my Blog – with pictures of the war memorial, commemorative halls and military exhibits.

For now – here are two pictures of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. 

Auckland War Memorial Museum
Auckland War Memorial Museum - World War 2 Hall of Memories

Seeing these war memorial monuments had a lasting impression on me – whether small or large in size – each memorial was a sublime epitome of reverence, elegance and dignity.

Food for Thought

With the exception of the early New Zealand Wars (1843–1872) which were fought on New Zealand soil – the other wars in which New Zealanders participated – these wars were fought far away from its shores – South African War, World War 1 and World War 2 – and – even the subsequent UN Peacekeeping Missions in which the New Zealand Defence Forces participated were in distant lands.

For many years now – New Zealand is one of the most peaceful nations in the world.

India’s population is almost 300 times more than New Zealand.

Size-wise  India is 12 times larger than New Zealand.

India has one of the largest Armed Forces in the world  especially the huge Army.

Compared to India – the size of New Zealand’s Armed Forces (Army Navy Air Force) is minuscule.

India has faced many wars and conflicts – and – there is always some Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) due to terrorism/militancy/insurgency going on due to which soldiers are martyred quite frequently.

In contrast – New Zealand is a peaceful country.

If you exclude the early New Zealand Wars, there have hardly been any direct wars on New Zealand territory – however – New Zealand made a significant contribution to Allied Forces in World Wars 1 and 2 and Peacekeeping Operations later by deploying its Armed Forces abroad.

However – one thing is evident: 

New Zealand respects its Martyrs – soldiers, sailors and airmen who laid down their lives fighting under the New Zealand Flag – the 900 War Memorials located throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand – in each neighbourhood, borough, village, town and city – bear testimony to the reverence accorded to the military.

Yes – there are more than 900 War Memorials in New Zealand – meticulously recorded in the New Zealand Memorials Register which has historical information and images and accurate locations with maps for over 900 memorials throughout the country.

There are a few War Memorials in India – including the recently built impressive war memorial in New Delhi. But there are hardly any memorials in villages to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of our military men in uniform. I feel it would be a noble idea to emulate New Zealand in this regard and we too can have similar simple, sublime and elegant war memorials  in each village  in each locality in every city  engraved with the names of martyrs from that village or locality  as a remembrance to martyred soldiers, sailors and airmen who perform the supreme sacrifice and lay down their lives for the nation.


'New Zealand Wars memorials', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012

'Memorials register', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 19-Nov-2013

'NZ memorials register map', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 20-Dec-2012 

'HMS Achilles memorial, St Heliers', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 3-Jul-2014

Auckland War Memorial Museum, URL:

I have written this travelogue based on my own personal experience during my visit to New Zealand in December 2015/January 2016 – of course – I have referred to References cited above for cross-checking and background information. 

However – all the photographs in the travelogue have been clicked by me on my smartphone. 





Impressive Display of the Military Heritage of New Zealand 


India’s first Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997 – and – as a fitting tribute to the warship’s yeoman’s service to the nation – it was decided to preserve INS Vikrant as a “Museum Ship” based in Mumbai.

Accordingly – INS Vikrant was converted into a Naval Museum Ship IMS (Indian Museum Ship) Vikrant.

The Museum Ship was very well conceived – the Indian Navy put in a lot of effort – and IMS Vikrant had a fascinating display of Naval Artifacts.

This interesting “afloat” Navy Museum had an added novelty of being on a famous ship – and this tribute to Naval Heritage attracted many visitors – despite not being easily accessible due to the security restrictions.

It was proposed to anchor this floating Navy Museum off Mumbai harbour to make it a top attraction to citizens, visitors and tourists.

However – all these noble plans never materialized – and – after a few years – the Navy Museum was dismantled – and the grand old ship INS Vikrant was scrapped.

Sadly – our Politicians and Civilian Citizens do not seem to be interested in preserving our military heritage – despite the fact that – India has fought major wars – and our Military Forces are in a constant state of combat – continuously engaged in counter-insurgency operations and action against militants/terrorists.

In contrast - even a small peaceful country like New Zealand has impressive War Memorials and Military Museums – to commemorate the few wars and peacekeeping missions in which its citizens participated  mostly overseas.

The remarkable Military Museums in New Zealand are prominent landmarks and top attractions – for citizens and visitors.

For example – if you open any visitor guide or tourism brochure – you will see that the magnificent Auckland War Memorial Museum is highlighted as a top sightseeing attraction.

Other Military Museums like the New Zealand Maritime Museum, Torpedo Bay Navy Museum and Aviation Display (at MOTAT) are hyped as “must see” sightseeing attractions in Auckland and figure prominently on all visitor guides and tourist itineraries – and so is the case with the Air Force Museum of New Zealand at Christchurch – and all the other Military Museums at various places in New Zealand.

The general public is well-informed of these Military Museums – and any tourist visiting New Zealand will be made aware and encouraged to visit these museums.

By the way – there are number of good Military Museums in India too – created in a piecemeal manner at various military locations  but – unfortunately – most civilians are not aware of these museums.

For example – let me ask you: “Have you visited Goa?”

If so – you must have visited the excellent beaches and other attractions in Goa.

But – are you aware that there is an impressive Naval Aviation Museum in Goa?

Does this Navy Museum figure prominently in any visitor guide or tourist itinerary?

Similarly – there are Military Museums (created by the Army, Navy and Air Force) at various places in India – in New Delhi, Ahmednagar, Jaisalmer, Port Blair, Pune – and maybe in a few other places – but – is the civilian public aware of these military museums – and are these military museums publicized as top tourist attractions?

Why is it – that there are many Military Museums in India – but most of these are unknown to civilian citizens and not easily accessible to the general public...?

This is just “food for thought” – shouldn’t we be proud of our military heritage as other nations rightly are?


Now – let me tell you a bit about the impressive Auckland War Memorial Museum – a magnificent structure with a superbly commanding presence as it stands tall and mighty atop the Auckland Domain in the heart of Auckland.

Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of New Zealand’s finest heritage buildings, stands on the hill known by Māori as Pukekawa.

The War Memorial Museum has occupied this site since 1929 when subscriptions raised by Aucklanders in remembrance of their war dead (in World War 1) enabled the construction of what is considered one of New Zealand’s best monuments.

After World War 2 – the Museum building was extended to encompass war memorials for the over 4000 Aucklanders who lost their lives in the Second World War – and to accommodate the ever-increasing artifacts in the Museum's collections.

The semicircular extension at the rear of the building was opened in 1960, providing more floor space and the World War 2 Hall of Memories which now also encompasses the names of those lost in subsequent peacekeeping missions and conflicts.

Auckland War Memorial Museum is a sacrosanct monument of remembrance for families and returned service personnel who wish to honor their loved ones and fallen comrades. 

This imposing neoclassical temple, capped with an impressive copper-and-glass dome, dominates the Auckland Domain and is a prominent part of the Auckland skyline, especially when viewed from the harbour.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum features a very interesting, informative and educative display of New Zealand’s heritage.

There a 3 levels:

1. People of the Pacific - which features artifacts and information about the pioneers who explored and settled down in New Zealand.

2. Stories of our Land and Sea - which has fascinating information about the geological origins and natural history of New Zealand before the advent of human settlers.

3. New Zealand War Stories - which is the most impressive section of the museum - comprises a fascinating display of the military heritage of New Zealand and highlights the gallant participation of New Zealanders in wars worldwide through history and their significant contribution to peacekeeping forces throughout the world. The Halls of Memory commemorate the supreme sacrifice of soldiers, sailors and airmen - and bear testimony to the rest respect and admiration the armed forces have in New Zealand.

This museum is so interesting that you must take out an entire day for seeing this impressive museum during your stay in Auckland New Zealand.

Here are a few photos I clicked during my visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum on 31 December 2015.

Pictures of the Impressive War Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Main (North) Entrance

Auckland War Memorial Museum - South Entrance

World War 1 - Hall of Memories

World War 2 - Hall of Memories

World War 2 - Remembrance Inscriptions and Record of Fallen

HMS Achilles Bell

Spitfire Fighter Aircraft - World War 2

Zero (Japanese) Fighter Aircraft - World War 2

Memorial Hall - World War 2

Navy Artifacts

Maori Wars Artifacts

Above and Below - Random Photos of Displays

View of South Entrance of Museum 

Instrument of Surrender with Japan - End of WW2

I could click very few photos since many displays were quite elaborate with subdued lighting and my smartphone battery ran out – but – I can say that this museum is the most impressive Military Museum I have seen so far. Indeed – the Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of the best museums I have ever visited. 

I hope India emulates New Zealand in this regard to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of our military men in uniform – and we too create and proudly publicize similar impressive Military Museums in India to showcase our Military Heritage and inspire future generations – and build sublime War Memorials as a remembrance to martyred soldiers, sailors and airmen who perform the supreme sacrifice and lay down their lives for the nation. 

Most importantly – we must make these military museums easily accessible to the public and tourists. 

I have written this travelogue based on my own personal experience during my visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum New Zealand on 31 December 2015 – and  of course – I have referred to the references cited below for cross-checking and background information. 


Auckland War Memorial Museum Website at url:

However – all the photographs in the travelogue have been clicked by me on my smartphone. 

Dear Reader: Do let me know if you know of any Military Museums and War Memorials – and – hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of the Auckland War Memorial Museum New Zealand.


I visited a number of Museums and Art Galleries during my New Zealand visits (Pictures in my Social Media Accounts)

These military museums are definitely worth a visit when you visit New Zealand:

New Zealand Maritime Museum Auckland
Torpedo Bay Navy Museum Devonport
MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) Auckland
Air Force Museum Christchurch


Maritime Museum

Torpedo Bay Navy Museum


Air Force Museum



Copyright © Vikram Karve 
1. If you share this post, please give due credit to the author Vikram Karve
2. Please DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Please DO NOT Cut/Copy/Paste this post
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

This Blog Post is an updated re-post of my travel blogs posts WAR MEMORIALS IN NEW ZEALAND written by me Vikram Karve on March 6, 2016 and posted by me online earlier in my blog at url: and AUCKLAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM at url: etc.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

No comments: