Many say that hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Foresight is inarguably a far greater attribute.

It is now very clear that the Napier City Council did not recognise that the city's conference facility and the War Memorial articles were one and the same in the hearts and minds of many.

It made the unanimous decision that it was insensitive to reinstate them internally in the Conference Centre during the 2016 redevelopment. The plaques are stored and the Eternal Flame burns in a secure location while a respectful and full access site for their reinstatement is identified.


The 1956 Natusch-designed, redwood-stained War Memorial Hall was dedicated as a community gathering facility in honour of the Napier citizens who paid the ultimate price while serving their country in World War II.

My late father Clyde's only sibling, Maurice, perished at 28 when the plane that he was navigating crashed in a electrical storm over the Atlantic in 1942. His body was never recovered. His name is recorded on the Roll of Honour.

By the mid-90s our hall had fallen into disrepair.The Eternal Flame, which had been extinguished for a long time, and the Memorial Plaques were located externally as originally.

The 1995 controversial redevelopment into a conference facility internalised the memorial articles into the entrance foyer. New plaques were added to provide complete rolls of WWI, the wider Napier area WWII, and our four largest post-WWII conflict service losses.

The most recent redevelopment was triggered by the fact that exhibition facilities are almost mandatory for modern conference facilities to work and the legislative seismic requirements for public buildings had to be met. A full upgrade was incorporated.

A management report was received after construction had begun that highlighted the conflict between marketing what had morphed into a commercial business, with a strong hospitality focus, and retaining a respectful place to remember our war dead.

The reporting officer stated that both national and local RSAs were in support of the recommendation to relocate the memorial articles and the name change of the facility.

The council has set up the War Memorial Working Party consisting of three councillors, two RSA reps, a Historic Places Trust representative and other community reps to recommend the most appropriate location for the reinstatement of the memorial articles.

The architect of the original building, Guy Natusch, has made his preferred location very clear by stating that the facility and the memorial items are "inextricably linked". His reinstatement proposal will achieve the council's access and respect criteria.

I have had strong feedback from other descendants of our war dead and our wider community since my recent comments to Hawke's Bay Today.

I am under no illusions regarding their wishes as to the naming of the facility and the location of the Eternal Flame and Rolls of Honour.

Tony Jeffery is a Napier City councillor and chairman of the council's Regulatory Committee. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: