The Citizens’ War Memorial was unveiled on 9 June 1937 by Colonel S. C. P. Nicholls during a service conducted by Archbishop Julius.
The figures were first modelled in clay by the Christchurch sculptor William Trethewey, and afterwards reproduced in plaster. The moulds were forwarded to England where they were cast in bronze by A. B. Burton.
The memorial needed to be repaired after the Christchurch earthquakes, and the rebuild of the Cathedral required its relocation. It was carefully disassembled throughout April 2021 before being placed in temporary storage, prior to being restored.
It was reinstated in the old location of the police kiosk, and re-dedicated in the presence of HRH the Princess Royal Anne on Friday 17 February 2023.
Find out more on Canterbury Stories.
The memorial comprises six figures, the symbolism of which is as follows:
The figure seated in the centre with outstretched arms, in an attitude of resignation and sacrifice, is symbolic of the Mothers of the Empire grieving for their sons.
On the right, facing the Cathedral, is St George in armour, representing valour or protection;
On the other side, holding a torch, is Youth.
Next to St George is Peace, holding an olive branch and a dove,
Alongside is Justice, blindfolded and holding scales.
The figure at the top showing the sword being broken was at first to be called “Victory”, but the War Memorial Committee decided against this and it has no name.
- Citizens' War Memorial Canterbury Stories
- Citizens' War Memorial photographs Discovery Wall
- Public Art in Central Christchurch: A Study by the Robert McDougall Art Gallery (1997)
- Citizens’ War Memorial on the move 22 April 2021, Newsline, Christchurch City Council
- Restoration work turning back time for Citizens’ War Memorial 25 March 2022, Newsline, Christchurch City Council
- Citizens’ War Memorial photographs Flickr
This was originally derived from the Christchurch City Council handbook of 1998.