Plans to refurbish Kaitaia's historic WWI memorial are attracting strong support from the community, and are expected to receive a grant from the Lottery World War I Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Committee according to the man who launched the project last year.
Vietnam veteran Lt Col (retd) Ray Beatson said an application was made to the grants committee in November, but, given that there was no guarantee of success, local fundraising began at about the same time. To date close to $19,000 had been donated, $14,000 of that coming from the Far North (Kaitaia) RSA, trusts and other organisations, the remainder in the form of public donations.
Fundraising would be on-going, Mr Beatson said.
"We were of the belief that all the (Lottery) application requirements had been met, and were surprised to receive a request earlier this month for a conservation report to be provided urgently," he added.
"The report was put together and made available within the specified time frame. It has been confirmed that the Lotteries Board will be meeting (this week) to consider applications received, and that the outcome of our application will be known in early May."
Meanwhile a local sculptor and carver Paul Marshall, whose work had earned him an international reputation, had been commissioned to carve and install a new right arm for the memorial's angel. A block of marble would be imported from Carrara, Italy, where the Angel was originally carved, for that purpose.
The text on the memorial base would be engraved, in both Maori and English, on a granite slab which would be affixed to the front of the concrete block foundation that supports the marble plinth and statue.
The restored memorial will be rededicated on March 24, 2016, precisely 100 years to the day since it was unveiled.
The conservation report describes the monument as special and outstanding because of its very early date of erection, its poetic, bilingual text, its origination by Maori (with concern for both Maori and Pakeha), and the prominence given to it by the community and scholars of New Zealand war memorials.
"It is unique amongst memorials erected by Maori in its explicit inclusion of both Maori and Pakeha," the report continued.
"It is believed to be the only World War I memorial in New Zealand that is fully bilingual ... At the time of its erection it was a source of considerable pride to its community ...
"The memorial is a place of symbolic and commemorative value, and has the potential for public education on the impact war has on small communities and relationships between Maori and Pakeha."