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About The Project

Le Quesnoy is a truly special place for New Zealanders to visit. We share a history that goes back over 100 years, which has led to intergenerational friendships, alive to this day. Now we can share a future too.

In October 2023, the NZ Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata opened in Le Quesnoy. Our Living Memorial tells the unique story of a liberation by ladder, while also honouring all New Zealanders who fought in Europe in WWI.

This uniquely New Zealand place in the very heart of this French town provides an opportunity for connection and reflection for all who visit, wherever they come from. The universally human stories of courage and sacrifice, when ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, takes visitors on an emotional, engaging, and educative journey, told with the values of Aotearoa, New Zealand

A Living Memorial

Like other allies: Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA, who all have their own museums and visitor centres on the Western Front post WWI, New Zealand now has a Living Memorial in Le Quesnoy. An immersive and interactive experience, it is a place where people can gather to remember, connect, reflect, share and engage.

This is our place to stand as New Zealanders, our foundation, our place in the world, our home – our tūrangawaewae in France. And a place for people from all over the globe to learn a little more about us.

Applying a Te Ao Māori lens has been central to realising the visitor experience the approach focuses the visitor on universal human ideas and, at their heart, personal stories that connect us all to each other, past and present. These are stories of courage, sacrifice and humanity. Narratives that show the human face of fighting for freedom, finding friendship, and forging a future free from war. Stories that move people to perhaps reflect inwardly on their own lives, and outwardly on the world they live in.

Heke mai

Wētā Workshop

For over 30 years, Wētā Workshop has applied their innovation and artistry to the world’s creative industries. Over this time, Sir Richard Taylor has led a world-renowned and uncompromising team of artists, technicians, and master craftspeople, including the creation of material for the Dubai World Expo. Now their talents, with their concept partner Haumi for this project, have been applied to designing the Living Memorial visitor experience at Le Quesnoy. 

Creating a powerfully emotive experience about New Zealand’s journey on the other side of the world, requires an internationally recognised New Zealand creative team. Wētā Workshop are the creators of the record-breaking Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War (Karipori: Te Pakanga Nui) exhibition in collaboration with the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. This emotive exhibition has seen three million guests through its doors, engaging people with the human reality of WWI.  

As Wētā Workshop notes, “thought-provoking, and emotional experiences can be created without compromising historical accuracy. History is the story of people, and those stories should be told clearly and faithfully.” Wētā Workshop’s location based experiences division has weaved its magic at Le Quesnoy.  

“Having the opportunity to bring such a significant piece of Kiwi history to the fore is very special. The stories are rich and compelling, and we want to help people connect with them in a meaningful way through reflection and discussion about what happened in this little French town over 100 years ago." Sir Richard Taylor - Wētā Workshop CEO and Creative Director.
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Nga tangata

A Phased Approach

Renovating an 1890s building and staying true to its beautiful beginnings while ensuring it is also fit for purpose for today and beyond, has not been an insubstantial task nor has the installation of the immersive experience housed within it.

The museum opened to the public 12 October 2023. The mansion has been restored to its former glory, retaining original features, such as floor tiles and the staircase.

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