Plans to unveil a $100,000 sculpture during Cambridge's Armistice Day commemorations were scrapped because the organising committee and iwi couldn't agree on where it should go.
The Armistice in Hamilton committee behind the sculpture said iwi's opposition to the site also coincided with news that all the dignitaries in New Zealand including the Prime Minister, the Governor General and the Minister of Defence could not attend the unveiling because they would be in Les Quesnoy in France.
Instead the imposing 6m stainless triangle with a sculpture with a silver fern designed by Tainui kaumatua and sculptor Fred Graham is sitting in a warehouse while both issues are sorted out.
The Armistice sculpture was touted to be placed at a prominent location on the road reserve at the intersection of Victoria St and Thornton Rd opposite St Andrew's Church at the entrance of the town.
But community board member Poto Davies told the Cambridge Community Board in October Ngati Koroki Kahukura did not support the prominent site because it fell in the sacred area of Lake Te Ko Utu. She confirmed this position to the Herald last night.
The trust board had already blessed a site at the Oak Arboretum.
Cambridge Community Board chair Mike Pettit said he decided to stop the diggers going into the location the next day as he did not want to damage relations between council and iwi.
Pettit said there were some questions around whether the site could be un-blessed or what happened if it was not used. The committee had also not realised the extent of the sacred area by Lake Te Ko Utu.
"So at that point it was like for the sake of sculpture especially with the diggers coming in tomorrow lets slow this thing down, lets see if we can get it resolved so we are on the same page.
"Because there's bigger things at play than just the sculpture in terms of damaging relationships and I could sort of see that potentially - I mean they were straight up - relationships were going to be massively damaged."
He acknowledged tensions appeared to already be strained between Waipa District Council and iwi since council voted in last October not to support the inclusion of Māori wards and felt installing the sculpture against iwi wishes would only exasperate it.
Armistice in Cambridge committee chairman Paul Watkins said subsequent discussions revealed iwi were more concerned about the process taken when the committee decided to change the location from Oak Arboretum to a road reserve at the intersection of Victoria St and Thornton Rd.
He said it had been an oversight on the committee's behalf, but was confident the sculpture would be installed next year at the more prominent site by St Andrew's Church, this time with the iwi's support.
It was hoped the unveiling would be held near Anzac Day in March or April at a time when dignitaries could attend without waiting an entire year.
The delay was annoying and disappointing, but not for one single reason, he said.
Cambridge councillor Liz Stolwyk who is also deputy chairperson of the Armistice in Cambridge board believed there had been some miscommunication and was unsure whether the community board or Poto Williams knew all the details of the project at the time.
Stolwyk said there were appropriate commemorations for Armistice on November 4, so having the sculpture's unveiling delayed had actually worked out well.
The national WW100 Lotteries fund has contributed all the money for the $75,000 sculpture and a further $25,000 for the large 1.5m tall star-shaped concrete plinth it will sit on.
Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest said all parties seemed happy with the location on Victoria and Thornton Rd near Lake Te Koo Utu, but it still needed formal approval from council. This was expected before Christmas.
Mylchreest said following the proposal to introduce Māori wards being rejected, council was now looking at how iwi could be better represented and had been working "very positively" with them on a preferred location for the sculpture.