On 19th September 1926, in the Harman’s Grove of North Hagley Park, the Bandsmen’s Memorial Rotunda was officially opened by the Hon. Sir R. Heaton Rhodes. This project was so close to the heart of Rhodes – who had served in WWI as a Colonel – that he had also lead the stone laying ceremony himself the year before on 8th November 1925.
As New Zealand soldiers prepared and were deployed overseas for active service in WWI, brass bands were formed in Auckland, Canterbury and Otago. Their main purpose was to help boost morale, lead marches, play at ceremonies and at the time of battle, be stretcher carriers, sometimes transporting the wounded under heavy fire.
Designed by the S & A. Luttrell Brothers (whose other works include the Isaac Theatre Royal and the Rose Historical Chapel) and built by the Rennall Brothers. This memorial was dedicated to those Canterbury bandsmen who lost their lives. One of the most striking features are the lion heads featured just under the roof line, rings hanging from their mouth. When a lion or lions feature on a war memorial, they usually represent the might of the British Empire.
The Rotunda is currently under earthquake repairs (2016).
*Photo taken by Chris Bulovic*