An ambitious war memorial has been revealed for the heart of Wellington, but concerns have been raised about the $75 million price tag for diverting a road around the new project.
Prime Minister John Key said yesterday that plans for a new National War Memorial Park would be fast-tracked to be ready in time for the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015.
The sprawling new park would link the existing memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the Hall of Memories and the National Carillon.
"This will be a place of contemplation, where government, foreign dignitaries, visitors and New Zealanders can come together and reflect on the sacrifices of our forebears," Mr Key said.
At present, State Highway 1 divided the proposed site for the park, so the Transport Agency planned to redirect the road beneath the site via an underpass.
It was estimated that this would cost $70 million to $75 million.
Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie-Ann Genter said she supported the new memorial but had reservations about the cost of the tunnel and the process of constructing it.
"The $75 million price-tag for undergrounding the existing road is very high," she said.
"The Greens are also concerned about the overriding powers the Government is planning to give itself in the Memorial Park Enabling Act."
She said the high cost and emergency powers were the result of the Government leaving the memorial to the last minute, after previously cancelling the project in 2009.
The development of the park itself was expected to cost $12 million, of which the Wellington City Council would contribute $2.11 million.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the park would give New Zealanders the opportunity to commemorate fallen soldiers "without the noise of traffic".
Mr Key said the new memorial would be a centrepiece of the World War I centenary and would commemorate the 300,000 New Zealanders who have served their country.
Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Chris Finlayson said the park would also provide an opportunity to recognise military conflicts that did not have a national memorial in New Zealand, such as the country's ongoing role in peacekeeping.
The Australian Government was also planning a memorial for the park.
A minute's silence was held at the unveiling of the plans for Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer, who were killed in combat in Afghanistan's Bamiyan Province on Saturday.
Mr Key said the deaths "bluntly reminded" New Zealanders of the sacrifices soldiers had made for their country.