War memorial may shift to Laurie Hall Park

By Mike Dinsdale

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Whangarei's Rose St Cenotaph could be on the move to Laurie Hall Park if Whangarei District Council votes on Wednesday to support the plan.

The RSA is keen for the Cenotaph - built to honour the district's armed service members who died in WWI - to move to Laurie Hall Park where the association has been holding a field of remembrance crosses to remember the district's war dead for recent ANZAC Day commemorations. The RSA is concerned that the Rose St site isn't large enough to host the thousands of people who attend the ANZAC Day dawn service at the Cenotaph.

The matter will go before the council's infrastructure and services committee on Wednesday with a recommendation that councillors support moving the cenotaph to the park; consider putting $500,000 towards the project in its next annual plan to ensure it's moved in time for the 2015 centenary of ANZAC troops landing at Gallipoli in WWI.

In his report to the meeting, council parks and recreation manager Paul McDonald said the RSA met with council staff to forward a proposal for funding from the Lottery World War One Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Fund, Department of Internal Affairs. The Department has set aside money for grants towards WWI commemorations in 2015.

Council staff made the application on the basis of moving the Cenotaph to the park to ensure the memorial was there for the 2015 ANZAC Day.

However, that application was rejected because moving the Cenotaph needed evidence it was in danger of being impacted by development or at risk from serious damage in its current location. The Department required an historic architect's report which would provide an independent assessment of the need to move the memorial. That report was received and the conclusion was, summarily, that the memorial should not be moved, on the basis it is not in any danger of encroachment or damage, and that it had strong meaning and connection to Rose St.

The Department said this was centred on the fact that the location for the Cenotaph relates to the railway station of the time which is the last place many of those soldiers were seen by their families.

Mr McDonald said his report recommendation would not give the Department the satisfaction of funding the relocation, however, the relocation is still possible by decision of council, and funding it appropriately.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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