National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

About Us

We are a New Zealand museum showcasing our nation’s military history, telling the stories of Kiwi soldiers and exploring our participation in major conflicts worldwide.


To engage New Zealanders in the stories of our soldiers and the history and development of our Army – showing how these have shaped our identity as a country and our place in the world, and thereby help create a nation which understands and values its military dimension.

Responsible Tourism

The National Army Museum understands it creates environmental and social impact through its activities. We actively try to reduce adverse effects by buying wisely, using resources efficiently, and disposing of waste responsibly.

We undertake to:

The National Army Museum currently holds a Qualmark ‘Enviro Silver’ award in recognition of the work we have been doing to reduce our environmental footprint. Our challenge as a responsible tourism operator is to continue to identify ways we can further reduce our footprint. If you have any suggestions please contact us.


For many years New Zealanders had been reluctant to commemorate their military history and as a result, plans for a national war museum had not eventuated.

The New Zealand Army had maintained small collections and displays at Dunedin, Burnham, Linton and Waiouru. In 1964, a small museum was established in the original Waiouru Homestead, and it wasn’t until thirteen years later that the Chief of General Staff, Major-General Ronald Hassett (a veteran of WWII and Korea) launched “Operation Heritage” to develop a National Army Museum.

The Museum was designed to function as a memorial; to acquire, preserve and display aspects of New Zealand’s military history; and to serve as a research and teaching facility.

Events moved rapidly: the Army Memorial Museum Trust Board was incorporated in August 1977. Spearheaded by a well-publicised run across New Zealand by Major Albert Kiwi and his dog Freefall, fund-raising got underway. The builders soon followed and Army Engineers and voluntary labour braved a tough winter to complete the Sir Miles Warren designed fortress-like structure in just 276 days. The Governor General opened the 1300-square metre Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum on 15 October 1978.

Looming dramatically out of the tussock and ‘guarded’ by restored tanks and guns, the complex captured the attention of Desert Road travelers. The Museum also attracted interest for its unique displays which were the work of Gary Couchman — a Wellington designer, now residing in Australia — who set new standards for museum display throughout New Zealand.

Since 1978, the Museum has undergone further development. Stage II opened in July 1983, increasing work, storage and gallery space. Stage III (Kippenberger Pavilion) was finished in 1995, as was the memorial greenstone wall Tears on Greenstone — Roimata Pounamu, which commemorates New Zealand’s War Dead from the three Armed services and the Merchant Marine.

The National Army Museum is now planning further development (Stage IV), which will consist of a large Display Hall that will enable the Museum to exhibit over fifty military wheeled and tracked vehicles and the large artillery pieces that are currently held in storage.


The National Army Museum is a Registered Charitable Trust. Most civilian staff are employed by Defence (Army) with the exception of the commercial activites and education assistance staff. The National Army Museum also has a number of volunteers which it calls on from time to time.

Director – Jeanette Richardson ONZM

jeanette 240x300 About UsThe National Army Museum’s Director, Jeanette Richardson, joined the Museum in January 2013 after a hugely successful period at the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi, which under her guidance took out several top tourism awards.

Jeanette was born in Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands. She is a qualified librarian and her academic background relates to history, education and management studies. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Auckland University in which she specialised in the history of New Zealand and the Pacific. Her post-graduate studies were management related and her speciality was organisational communications.

Jeanette worked in the University of Auckland Library and in public libraries before founding her own consultancy organisation providing management services. Richardson Management Consultants Ltd has worked for small business, large enterprises and public authorities.

In 2001 Jeanette began working at the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi, beginning what was to become a decade long period of positive change. She also chaired the Waitangi Day Governance Group, which took an overview of the development of the marking of our National Day.

In 2010 the Treaty Grounds were awarded the ‘Best Tourism Operator” Award at the Northland Westpac Business Awards and went on, at the same event, to win “Best Overall Enterprise”.

That same year Jeanette won the inaugural award for the most innovative New Zealander working in the tourism industry at the Tourism Awards. She was also a 2010 finalist in the ACP Media Woman of the Year Award.

Jeanette was listed in the 2011 New Years Honours where she became an ONZM.

Jeanette is a published author and her latest book “A Capital Story” was launched on 22 August. She has written extensively about early New Zealand History. She is currently working on a book which is provisionally entitled ‘A Woman’s Touch’.

In 2013 Jeanette has been a semi-finalist in the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. She has taken up the post of Director of the National Army Museum and says she is “looking forward to this new challenge immensely”.

The Trust Board

The Trust Board has overall responsibility for the Army Museum and its activities. The day to day operation of the Army Museum is the responsibility of the Director, Jeanette Richardson, ONZM.

Members of the Trust Board
Lt Col (Rtd) Matt Beattie (Chairman)
Brig (Rtd) David McGregor, OBE, ED
Brig (Rtd) Rick Ottaway
Dr Kerry McDonald
Mr Kenneth Johnston
Sir Maarten Wevers, KNZM
Ms Kerry Prendergast, CNZM

Advisory Trustees
Maj Gen (Rtd) Martyn Dunne, CNZM
Sir Graeme Harrison, KNZM
Mr Murray Gribben

Ex-Officio Members:
Brig Phil McKee, Deputy Chief of Army
Brig (Rtd) John Dennistoun-Wood (Secretary)
Jeanette Richardson, ONZM (Director, National Army Museum)

National Army Museum – a New Zealand museum showcasing our nation’s military history.