There were clear signs of changing times as the completion of the resurrection of Napier's most prominent war memorial was launched today .
Mayor Kirsten Wise reflected on the angst and hurt of the five years since a council under previous Mayor Bill Dalton moved in mid-2016 to rebrand the War Memorial Conference Centre to simply the Napier Conference Centre, to meet modern marketing ideals.
But it also included the removal of and plans to relocate war memorial features, including its Perpetual Flame and roll of honour including those fallen in the two World Wars and other conflicts.
Representatives of servicemen and servicewomen were present for the formalities in the foyer of the War Memorial Centre, referred to as a "ground-breaking" ceremony.
Outside were the real signs – most prominently, fences around where the work has started, with a hoardings "wrap" including visualisations of the finished project and QR codes for the punters to scan with the cellphones and get an idea of what's going on.
Hidden from view were Taupō horologists Rowan Pilbrow and Werner Muller-Schild removing the hands of the 66-year-old floral clock being taken away for an overhaul and an eventual new placement as part of the memorial project.
Mayor Wise said: "The memorial holds a special place to a lot of people in Napier. It's a link to the past for families whose loved ones are honoured here, and it's a place for us all to reflect on the importance of peace now and into the future."
The ground will be prepared for the reinstallation of the iconic floral clock, and the Roll of Honour will be reinstated and the Perpetual Flame put in place as part of the project, which has many parts to it including the final detailed design and construction phases.
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The 'wrap' around the worksite shows concept drawings for the project, some elements of which have been completed, such as updating and confirming the names on the Roll of Honour. The project is set to be complete in time for Anzac Day in 2023.
Others who spoke in the short ceremony were services chaplain Bill Chapman, Napier RSA president Jim Purcell and kaumatua Haami Hilton and Piri Prentice.
Outside, it was a novel project for Rowan Pilbrow, third generation in a family horology history dating back 75 years, saying that while he'd done big clocks over the years, including the Taradale Town Clock, it was the first embedded in the ground.
The job was to uplift the timepiece, including its 3.75-metre big hand, take it to the workshop in Taupo, get it going again and then bide the time until the call to return to Napier and reinstall it a few metres away.
Asked what was underneath, he said: "I don't know. I've never seen it. I'm learning as I go."