Hundreds of Napier residents gathered on Sunday afternoon in the former Soldiers Club building on Marine Parade for a public consultation process on the war memorial.

The meeting place seemed fitting, as the unique building's foundation stone was laid in 1916, the same year as the World War I campaign at Gallipoli ended.

The meeting was held to discuss two proposals about where the plaques and eternal flame should be placed, which the Napier City Council originally put out for public consultation.

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One of the organisers, Craig Morley, said the council had had three ideas on which it had planned to consult, one indoor and two outdoor, but the concept had been reduced to the two outdoor options.

Former Napier mayor Barbara Arnott spoke at the meeting and said they were there "because of democracy".

"Our history is just as important as our tourism, as our buildings and as our people. Because we build on our history for our future," Arnott said.

"Your voices collectively are important and if we don't have transparency in our city and if we cannot listen to the people who live in our city, we have done our citizens a huge disservice.

"The name "war memorial" will undoubtedly go back on the memorial by the 1st of October and it will be great if it does. But the elements need to go back where people can pay tribute, not just in 2018, but in the future and I'm talking about 100 years ahead."

Public consultation process to decide on the design and location for the eternal flame and the roll of honour. Photo / Warren Buckland
Public consultation process to decide on the design and location for the eternal flame and the roll of honour. Photo / Warren Buckland

The first concept, or the "garden solution", was presented by a member of Historic Places Hawke's Bay, Dorothy Pilkington.

"This was the design that the council officers recommended would be the selected option out of the three original ideas," she said.

The concept was based at the site of the original war memorial site, but featured an extensive area where people could walk, sit and observe the roll of honour, eternal flame and plaques.

The cost of the concept was estimated at about $500,000.

The concepts were ranked on certain criteria, such as visibility of the eternal flame, proximity to the roll of honour, contemplation, shelter, potential education, flagpoles and safety of the site, and roll of honour plaques.

The second concept, "an area of contemplation", designed by Hawke's Bay architect Guy Natusch, was presented by Alan Rhodes.

"The second proposal is to house the roll and flame outside the existing structures visibly adding to the memorial ambiance as they did for 40 years here."

An element of a new structure, a shrine of contemplation, would be built on an extension of the wall memorial level over the floral clock site.

"The clock would be relocated to the sunken garden. The new shrine would have the roll of honour in traditional black granite stones flanking it," Rhodes said.

"A memorial path would arrive and connect with the hall and its entrance way and bring it back to the memorial at a striking architectural gravitation that the original memorial had before the new additions."

Rhodes ended his presentation with a quote from Natusch who was unable to attend the presentation.

"Successive councils, as guardians of an important cultural asset, have failed to honour their original undertaking surrounding the use of and permanent maintenance of the war memorial site for community purpose and memory.

"The decision to sacrifice memory to commercial interest without any consultation with the people whose memorial it was has proved to be a disaster. As with many disasters, the responsibilities and costs of putting it right rests with those who created the problem in the first place.

"There should be no compromise, merely to say the cost to do so would be an insult to the dead, as well as to their families and to those who survived in the city."

The third option uses space that is already in the conference centre. That space is currently being used to store chairs.

"It's the most under-utilised floor space on the entire parade. So it's not an addition – just removing and adding some internal doors to make this space useable," said organiser Craig Morley.

"Within this space is the original outer wall of the memorial.

"Of course if you properly use this floor area, then opening it up with windows to get the fantastic parade views is a must. This existing chair storage area is dark and windowless."

Morley said adding the windows to the room greatly improves the external appearance.

"This indoor option could be 24/7 if that was the desire of the wider community. Its pretty obvious that any outdoor option is not truly 24/7 because of weather restrictions.

There is also the safety to consider an not many would venture out at night, 2 or 3 in the morning to view a roll of honour. We know there are vandals and vagrants in this out door area."