Ministry for Culture and Heritage



Contract Type

Construct only


Feb 2015



National War Memorial and Carillon

A refurbishment so clever you wouldn't even notice it

If you held up a photograph of the National War Hall of Memories and Carillon before and after their restoration, you likely wouldn’t be able to see much difference. An odd measure of success maybe, but that’s exactly what the Ministry for Culture & Heritage wanted. 

When they engaged us to undertake the seismic strengthening and refurbishment of the art deco Carillon and Category 1 Heritage listed Hall of Memories, they set a very clear objective: the visual impact of the works should be imperceptible. 

No small feat when that work will be scrutinised by over 40,000 people at the Anzac Day Centenary Celebrations.

Faced with this challenge, we used a sympathetic construction approach to restore and strengthen these nationally significant monuments.

we used a sympathetic construction approach to restore and strengthen these nationally significant monuments.

The 1950s era Memorial Hall of Memories had been “red-stickered’ by the local council, precluding its use or occupation to be open to the public. Restoration and seismic strengthening of the building included:   

  • Supporting the building by tying buttresses to beams under the steps on either side of the building. 
  • On the north side of the hall, blocks of the creamy white Mount Somers stone that clad the building’s interior were tied to the reinforced carillon wall with 300 steel rods. The drill holes were filled with ground-up stone so that the repairs are barely evident.

The seismic upgrade, OH&S and heritage retrofit of the National War Memorial Carillon included: 

  • Installation of new seismic braces and construction of new seismic walls to the Clavier Room.
  • Replastering the exterior tower, repairs to the roof, windows and balustrades,
  • Upgrades to the Crow’s Nest, over 100 individual concrete repairs and repainting.
  • Other building work included the installation of safety nets and the relocation of electrical and stormwater services.

Unique aspects
  • Refurbishing the Carillon Tower – including removal of existing ladders, platforms and walkways - without damaging the heritage 1929 National War Memorial Carillon, an irreplaceable musical instrument composed of 74 bronze bells totalling 71 metric tonnes.
  • Managing the complete re-plastering of the 51 metre high Carillon Tower during some of most inclement weather experienced in Wellington in recent years. 
  • Working in a highly sensitive, heritage protected environment, which was very much in the public eye in the lead up to the ANZAC 100 year commemorations.


Project Partners

Name Studio Pacific Architecture

Role Architect

Name Structural Engineer

Role Dunning Thornton

Name The Building Intelligence Group

Role Project Manager


Name New Zealand Architecture Award 2016 (Heritage Category)