Town memorials

This hook is an image of a town memorial. It has an interesting history and commemorates the First World War. A visit to your local town memorial would be an excellent alternative hook.

Mercer War Memorial by kiwinz, 2008.(external link)

Mercer War Memorial by kiwinz, 2008.


First World War memorials exist in most New Zealand towns and come in many different kinds and styles. This war memorial, in the Waikato town of Mercer, is partly made from the gun turret of a ship called the Pioneer. British forces used the Pioneer to invade the Waikato in 1863 and the ship played a key role in the British attack against Waikato Māori.

This hook raises questions about why so few war memorials in this country commemorate those who fought in the New Zealand Wars; most focus on the First and Second World Wars. How might local iwi feel about the gun turret being used in this way? What comment is being made by commemorating two entirely separate conflicts with a single memorial? Whose views and values does this memorial represent?

Key questions

  • What can we observe?
  • What do we already know?
  • How might people view this war memorial in different ways?

Possible discussion questions

  • What do you notice about this war memorial site? Is it clear what is being remembered?
  • How do you think the history of the Mercer memorial impacts on the way people feel about it?
  • Have you visited or noticed any other war memorials? Have you noticed any differences between First and Second world war memorials?
  • Where is your local war memorial? When was it built, and is there a story behind its construction?
  • Do you recognise any of the names on the war memorial in your town?
  • If a memorial in your town needed to be replaced, who should decide what the new memorial should say and/or look like?
  • Most First World War memorials commemorate soldiers who died in the war. What types of memorials could be created to commemorate those who bravely refused to fight, those who contributed to the war effort at home, and the families who lost their loved ones?
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