In 1919 the layout of Queen’s Park was being planned in preparation for the opening of the Sarjeant Gallery. The Borough Council requested an ornate flight of concrete steps to be built as the main approach from Maria Place to the new gallery.
The plans were drawn up by Henry Monk Helm (who was runner-up in the Sarjeant Gallery design competition in 1916) and provided for the removal of the Lion Monument from its position at the top of the hill to a lower, central site on the steps.
The bodies of those who fell at the Battle of Nukumaru are interred beneath the concrete paving where the Lion now sits. John Jones built the steps at a cost of 950 pounds. At a ceremony to mark the commencement of work, on 9 June 1919, they were given the name ‘Veterans’ Steps’.
The steps were not quite completed when the Sarjeant Art Gallery was opened on 23 September 1919 and it was not until January 1920 that the Lion Monument was moved and the Veterans’ Steps were finally completed.
In 2006 Wanganui District Council undertook major restoration work on the Veterans’ Steps. This included the careful cleaning of the Lion Monument under the guidance of a professional conservator.
Eighty-six years after their first opening, the Veterans’ Steps were re-dedicated by Mayor Michael Laws and Padre Reverend Jackson-Campbell, in a special ceremony held on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2006.