A hill-top memorial in Wellington.

Episode: 35. Site Number: 044. Date Posted: 24 January 1997. Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Type: Memorial.

Byrd Memorial Mt Victoria looms high above Wellington, NZ. A short and scenic bus ride to the summit offers the visitor panoramic views of the city and environs. At the end of the road is a parking area and a few feet away stands a tent-like structure facing southward. Within is a bronze bust of Admiral Richard E. Byrd sculpted by Thomas V. Johnston RA. According to Looking South: New Zealand Antarctic Society's First Fifty Years 1933-1953 (Wellington, 1983), the ". . . project had been conceived by Byrd's fondest admirer in New Zealand, A. Leigh Hunt, through an organisation he founded, the Richard E. Byrd Memorial Fellowship." Rocks collected in 1960-61 from the Koettlitz Glacier region and from Ross Island were used to construct the south facing wall of the enclosure which serves as the backdrop for the bust. The memorial was unveiled on the 11th of March, 1962--the fifth anniversary of Byrd's death--by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake.
      When I visited the site in 1991 the memorial and surroundings looked somewhat woebegone and the bronze tablets had been stolen or otherwise removed. Since then, it's happily been revamped and was rededicated on June 21, 1993. The sides of the structure originally were white stucco with embedded stones (presumably of Antarctic origin as well). In the reconstruction these surfaces have been reclad with 2000 ceramic tiles that feature a design by Doreen Blumhardt depicting the Aurora Australis.
      On the stone platform surrounding the structure is a plaque commemorating Paul A. Siple and his accomplishments on three Byrd expeditions. I believe this was added during the rehabilitation.