The Bandsmen's Memorial Rotunda was erected in 1926 to commemorate bandsmen who died during the First World War. The memorial is one of few in New Zealand commemorating a community created by war itself.
The military presence in New Zealand in the late 1800s lead to the establishment of brass bands. Soon, clubs and workplaces were forming bands to play at parades, sporting events and protests and brass bands became a popular form of public entertainment.
Bandsmen were highly prized by the military and during the First World War they played at burials, entertained troops in their downtime, lead marches, boosted morale with their music and sometimes doubled as stretcher bearers. They often performed these duties under heavy fire.
On 19 September 1926, the Bandsmen's Memorial Rotunda was officially opened by MP Sir Heaton Rhodes. Rhodes, a Colonel in the war, recounted that after Gallipoli only one band could be formed from the four that went to the battle as casualties were so heavy. It was estimated that between 500 and 600 bandsmen had been on the battlefields of France.
Until the 1950s, brass bands would regularly play at the Bandsmen's Memorial Rotunda and many Christchurch residents would gather for concerts on a Sunday afternoon.
The Rotunda has a Grade II Heritage New Zealand(external link) listing.