World War II Bomber Command veterans are upset at being refused space for a memorial in the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The bronze memorial sculpture was made by Academy Award-winning Weta Workshop after the RAF Bomber Command Association of New Zealand raised $100,000 - on the understanding the museum would display it inside.
However, association president Bill Simpson said yesterday he received a phone call "out of the blue" from museum director Vanda Vitali cancelling the project.
"She said the museum trust board had decided instead to fund a plaque in the Hall of Memories, and our memorial would now not be going into the museum at all," said the 86-year-old St Heliers Bay resident. "We have not been treated very well by this lot."
Mr Simpson said he had written a letter of protest to the board asking why the association was not consulted about the decision earlier this month.
"We have worked on the project for over two years and received support from mayors, the Prime Minister, MPs and many others."
Veterans and their families worldwide had sent donations, and charitable trusts had made grants.
"We raised money only on the basis of the memorial going into the museum.
"The association is now in an invidious position with a potential obligation to refund at least half the money while still meeting the $100,000 contracted price for making the memorial."
Mr Simpson said the association and Weta Workshop had patiently tried to meet the museum's constantly changing requirements for siting the memorial since a place was offered by former museum director Dr Rodney Wilson.
Dr Wilson, who left the museum in September, suggested a corner site and the memorial was designed for that.
His successor, however, suggested it be a free-standing memorial. Dr Vitali is overseas until the trust board holds its monthly meeting on November 6.
Head of museum communications Russell Briggs said yesterday that a site would be reconsidered then, in light of meetings between executives and the association.
He said the memorial weighed 467kg and had to be bolted to a wall, but the site selected turned out to be one of the museum's protected heritage walls.