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Mount Victoria

Byrd Monument

Richard E. Byrd
Winchester, Virginia, 1888 - Boston 1957
American polar explorer and rear admiral, famous because of his exploration of the North and South Poles.
Thomas V. Johnston

Wellington /  Byrd Monument   Wellington /  Byrd Monument


Bronze bust in a triangular monument covered with ceramic tiles


Directly beneath the bust:
rear - admiral u.s.n.
born 25 october 1888
died 11 march 1957
ambassador of goodwill - friend of new zealand
At the front of the monument, to the left:
signed on 1 december 1959 by twelve nations,
this was a milestone along the road to international co-operation
it provided for non-militarisation,
for the prevention of nuclear explosions and disposal of radioactive waste,
for an international inspection system,
for the pooling of scientific information.
it demonstrated the subordination of national interests to the wider
cause of science and increased understanding between nations.
richard evelyn byrd dedicated his life to peaceful progress
for mankind. outstanding in aviation and exploration,
he was a scientist, a humanitarian, a champion of freedom
and a great internationalist. his concept of antarctica as
"the great white continent of peace"
was a prelude to the antarctic treaty.
may the spirit of the treaty endure and spread throughout the world
In the pavement in front of the monument, to the left:
this memorial to the late rear admiral
byrd was restored through the efforts of
the new zealand american association
inc. and the new zealand antarctic
society inc. restoration was made
possible by the generosity of ameritech
and bell atlantic new zealand ltd.
mobil oil new zealand limited, national
geographic society, wellington city
council and numerous individual
benefactors from the united states of
america. it was rededicated on 21st
june 1993 by the hon. fran wilde, mayor of

the artwork on the tiles symbolising the
aurora australis or southern lights, was
designed and carried out by new zealand
ceramic artist doreen blumhardt in
conjunction with the wcc


paul siple accompanied admiral byrd to
the antarctic on three expeditions in
1928 - 30, 1933 - 35 and 1939 - 41. het later
undertook three other antarctic
expeditions including the leadership of
south pole station in 1956 - 57. dr. siple
became one of the foremost authorities
on the geography of antarctica, polar
logistics and the principles governing
the adaptation of humans to life in cold

In the pavement in front of the monument, to the left (hardly readable):

dedicated 11th march 1962

unveiled -
rt. hon. keith holyoake
prime minister
dedicated -
rev. w.e.d. davies
national council
architects -
olchisten dowell
sculptor -
thomas v. johnston r.a.
landscaping -
edward hutt esq.
antarctic stone
g.w. markham esq.
antarctic divis. d.s.i.r.
conception -
richard e. byrd fellowship
new zealand
The bust is placed in a wall made of stones:
the stones on this wall
are from the koettlitz glacier region
cape hailett and cape evans


The tiles are signed Doreen / Blumhardt / 1993


On 11 March 1962, the fifth anniversary of the Admiral's death, the New Zealand National Memorial to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd was dedicated at Wellington. The Reverend W. E. D. Davies, chairman of the Wellington Branch of the National Council of Churches, performed the dedication, and the Right Honorable Keith Holyoake, Prime Minister of New Zealand, assisted by Rear Admiral David M. Tyree and Mr. A. Leigh Hunt, originator of the project, unveiled the bust of Admiral Byrd which is in the center of the memorial. The response to the dedication was made by Miss Ruth Bacon, United States Charge d'Affaires. The honored guest and representative of the Byrd family was Mrs. Robert Breyer, the late Admiral's daughter.

In addition to the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition, the Right Honorable Walter Nash, and the dean of the diplomatic corps, His Excellency Admiral Sir John Collins, made brief addresses. Mr. Tracey Simpson, chairman of the Richard E. Byrd Fellowship, which sponsored the memorial, read messages from prominent persons all over the world. Among them was one from President Kennedy which said in part that the memorial to Admiral Byrd would stand "as a symbol of enduring friendship between the United States, land of his birth, and New Zealand, the country with which he was so closely associated in his great adventures."

The memorial recognizes not only Admiral Byrd's accomplishments in exploration, referring to him as the "greatest explorer of the air age," but also his contributions to international understanding. One large plaque refers to him as "a great internationalist," whose "concepts of Antarctica as 'the great white continent of peace' are contained in the Antarctic Treaty."

The above article was published in the Bulletion of the U. S, Antarctic Projects Officer, March, 1962. The memorial was constructed at the Mt. Victoria lookout, east of the city center. The bronze bust of Admiral Byrd was sculpted by Thomas V. Johnston. Byrd's head is looking south; the stones on the south-facing wall came from the Koettlitz Glacier and Ross Island areas of Antarctica. The sides of the memorial were originally white stucco.

In the early 1990s the monument was refurbished, and the sides were reclad with ceramic tiles depicting auroras, by artist Doreen Blumhardt. The plaques were replaced, and a new stone plaque was added commemorating Paul Siple. The memorial was rededicated on 21 June 1993.

Wellington - Byrd Monument


Sources & Information


Locatie (S 41°17'49" - E 174°47'37") (Satellite view: Google Maps)

Item Code: nz028; Photograph: 13 February 2008
Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
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© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt

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