As we commemorate another ANZAC Day many are reminded of the ongoing need to pay respect to the fallen and to celebrate values that many New Zealanders consider either distinctive or admirable about their nation – mateship, unity, courage, self-sacrifice, loyalty – as well as the traditional commemoration of the day itself which has now adopted the atmosphere of national unity.
For the past 34 years, one of the National Army Museum’s most important roles continues to be that of a war memorial to over 30,000 men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.
In 1995 the museum constructed the Tears on Greenstone – Roimata Pounamu memorial wall. The Greenstone Wall, arguably the largest man-made greenstone structure in the Southern Hemisphere, was designed to commemorate the war dead of the New Zealand Army, Air Force, Navy and the Merchant Marine. It is a unique interpretation of the New Zealand Roll of Honour and a distinctly New Zealand Memorial, as the wall includes some 430 tiles of cut greenstone (nephrite jade).
Army Museum Curator Windsor Jones said, “A striking aspect of the Greenstone Wall is the extreme youth of many of the fallen, illustrating a vast and tragic loss of individual and collective potential, and a reality that the lingering impact of those losses is still felt today. It has become an enduring feature of the New Zealand landscape, where cenotaphs and memorials, often dotted on lonely hills or quiet country roads, carry more names that can be justified.
During my tenure as Curator, I have endeavoured to produce exhibitions that never lose sight that the National Army Museum is a Memorial and that we, as a group of people play an important part in our nation’s collective remembrance of the fallen. The artefacts selected in a number of exhibitions are those with poignant personal stories and are a tragic reminder of so many who now lie in foreign fields.”
The National Army Museum will soon launch a new improved Tears on Greenstone database which contains more detailed information about our war dead and includes a new-look touch screen to make searching easier.