It will be back to the beginning for the long-awaited Erebus memorial in Dove-Myer Robinson Park if consents are not obtained.
"Is there an alternative venue? No there is not," Brodie Stubbs, manager of memorials and taonga at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, told the Weekend Herald.
"The design is specific to the site and it is not as if we can just take that design and plonk it somewhere else. If it doesn't go ahead here, to a large extent we are back to square one, for finding a new site, for restarting a design process."
A decision regarding landowner consent has been put off until next year amid passionate opposition.
Failure to gain the necessary consents will have budget ramifications for the $3 million project, of which $700,000 has been spent.
The Ministry and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is also Culture and Heritage Minister, are happy with the design, Te Paerangi Ataata – Sky Song, and the site in a northern section of what is popularly known as the Parnell Rose Gardens.
"It is the right location," said Stubbs. "It's not as though it is the one we were stuck with."
But Parnell resident Jo Malcolm claims the opposite and cites documents released to her showing other options - Cornwall Park, One Tree Hill, the Domain, Bastion Point, Western Springs and Wynyard Quarter - were ruled out for various reasons.
"It wasn't the preferred choice, it was the only choice," said Malcolm, daughter of former National Party cabinet minister Aussie Malcolm, and daughter-in-law of a victim of the Erebus crash.
In her view, the project was rushed and public consultation was inadequate. She is critical that an assessment by Government consultants who concluded the park was a poor site was not made public.
Initially the Government wanted the memorial built for the 40th anniversary last month of the disaster which claimed the lives of all 257 on board when an Air New Zealand flight crashed into the side of Mt Erebus in Antarctica.
When that wasn't possible, it aimed to hold a turning-of-the-sod ceremony on the day. That was cancelled following complaints public consultation was insufficient.
Stubbs: "It would have been good to have had better information out there, [but] it is not as if we kind of snuck this through. There was wide publicity in November last year about the selection of the site. There was again great coverage of the announcement of the final design."
The latest delay to landowner consent comes after the Government decided at the 11th hour not to proceed with a hearing last Tuesday. That will now occur next year after resource and heritage consent processes are completed, which Stubbs said will enable the local board to be better informed.
An independent commissioner will decide whether to invite public input into the resource consent process. The Ministry has requested it not be notified.
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Stubbs said postponing the landowner consent decision had nothing to do with public submissions received by Auckland Council showing most submitters who live within the Waitematā Local Board (74 percent of 325 people) don't want it in the park.
Responses across the Super City were fairly evenly split, while 80 percent of submitters who live outside of Auckland are in favour of it being in Dove-Myer Robinson Park.