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 – Tracy Puklowski

Tracy Puklowski has worked in New Zealand’s cultural heritage sector for over twenty years, including at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Library of New Zealand, and Archives New Zealand. Tracy has also been the Director of two museums; Te Awamutu, and Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History.

During her time at Te Papa, Tracy led a successful programme of change at National Services Te Paerangi, developed new partnerships and programmes for the museum through a wide range of national and international networks, and oversaw the record-breaking exhibition Gallipoli: the scale of our war. She is a respected commentator and advisor on museum matters within New Zealand and beyond, and is currently Visiting Research Associate with National Taiwan University of Education’s Museum Studies programme.

Tracy has a strong belief in the transformative power and social responsibility of museums and supports the work of the Federation of International Human Rights Museums and the Social Justice Alliance for Museums. As a values based leader, Tracy finds inspiration in the Army’s values of Courage, Commitment, Comradeship and Integrity, and looks forward to working with her team to uncover how those values can guide the museum into the future.

Tracy has a Master’s degree with honours from Auckland University, and a post-graduate Museum Studies Diploma from Massey University. She is also a graduate of the Getty’s highly esteemed and competitive Museum Leadership Institute, based in the United States.


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, Tracy Puklowski.

Members of the Trust Board
Lt Col (Rtd) Matt Beattie (Chairman)
Brig (Rtd) David McGregor, OBE, ED
Brig (Rtd) Rick Ottaway
Dr Kerry McDonald
Sir Maarten Wevers, KNZM
Ms Kerry Prendergast, CNZM
Puawai Cairns
Stephen Davies Howard

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

Ex-Officio Members:
Brig Chris Parsons, Deputy Chief of Army
Tracy Puklowski (Director, National Army Museum)

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