Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Museum war memorial at risk

Designs for remembrance project don’t meet original brief.
The Korowai Design shows a processional way up to the msueum but veterans want something simpler.
The Korowai Design shows a processional way up to the msueum but veterans want something simpler.

A $3 million World War I memorial in Auckland Domain may not proceed after concerns the five shortlisted designs do not meet the original vision.

Councillor Mike Lee, chairman of the WWI centennial memorial working party, said doing nothing was now an option. "I hope we don't have to take it," he said.

War veterans have questioned how the designs have deviated from the brief for a processional walkway up the northern slopes of the Domain to the cenotaph at the War Memorial Museum.

The brief states that the proposed feature should be a contemplative "stimulus to reflection" about the effects of conflict on the community, not solely on military service.

Auckland RSA president, Graham Gibson, said he was blown away by the designs' plans to alter the landscape in front of the museum. Members wanted a simple, reflective commemoration feature, he said.

Mike Lee.
Mike Lee.


"We need to take a deep breath and relook at this whole thing," said Gibson, a Vietnam War veteran.

Auckland District RSA president Pat Johnson said Aucklanders, not just RSA members, should have a say on the designs. He had given feedback and settled on one.

Field of Remembrance Trust chairman David McGregor previously said all of the designs had individual merit and were professionally presented but none of them represented the brief.

Public feedback on the designs, which did not reveal which consortium of architects and designers was responsible for which design, closed on January 24. Lee said the project began with a lot of support from stakeholders who liked the concept of a simple and utilitarian memorial that was sympathetic with the museum.

"Once the five finalist drawings were produced there was overall disappointment. There is a concern every design has a Maori theme, which is hard to connect with the Great War," he said.

Lee said the working party wanted to select the best consortium to do the final design but hardly any of the offerings met the design principles.

"If the design meets the brief it will do no harm and enhance and complement the Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Cenotaph and we will proceed on that basis."

One school of thought, he said, was to do nothing. "I would rather do nothing than do harm," he said.

For more information on the designs go to aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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