23 Apr 2021

History of the Week - ANZAC Park

Anzac Day, a public holiday, is observed on 25 April. It commemorates New Zealanders killed in war and honours returned and serving servicemen and women. The date marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915, however it is intended as a day of remembrance for all the wars fought by New Zealand soldiers.

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Nelson has its own special place of remembrance – Anzac Park. This area of land, once owned by Captain W.F. Millton, was purchased by Nelson City Council in 1897 and, by 1912, the area bounded by Haven, Halifax and Rutherford Streets had been reclaimed. Miltons Acre Reserve (somehow the spelling changed from the original Millton), was gradually transformed into a Park. It was renamed Anzac Park at the end of World War I.

The layout has changed over the years, however the Park continues as a place of commemoration. Donated seats from the Returned Services Association and individuals commemorate Servicewomen, Ordinance division, J Force and the Royal Navy, E.E. Wilson and C.M. Rout (a prominent barrister and solicitor who served in both World Wars).

Trees have been planted for a variety of anniversaries, such as the Gallipoli landing and battle of Alamein, as well as service organisations. In 2011 a magnificent waharoa - a monument of remembrance for the members of the 28th Māori Battalion who have passed away and have whakapapa to Te Tau Ihu - was installed at the entrance to the Park.

More information about the waharoa, and many of the other Nelson war memorials can be found on The Prow.

Read the story of Anzac Park and its surroundings


Image: Milton's Acre. Nelson Provincial Museum, FN Jones. [shows the existing shape, sealed park and turnstiles. American elms were planted a bit later]