In October 2018, Napier City Councillors passed a resolution for three War Memorial concepts to go out for public consultation, this resolution made it clear the community should be asked not only for their feedback but also to provide comment, modifications or to submit alternative designs.
As the mover and seconder of this resolution, it was made very clear at the time that this consultation was not to be a tick box exercise, that we (the council) did not have a preferred option and that it was important the reinstatement of our memorial was done by a community-led design.
Late last year the council undertook the consultation.
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Just under 1300 people took part in this via written submissions, focus groups, community pop ups, RSA hosted public meetings, telephone surveys and digital engagement.
The officer's recommendation was then presented to the council for debate at the strategy
and infrastructure committee meeting on February 19. The staff recommendation was to select a design option (one of the three) for further development that considered feedback received on that option.
Councillor Keith Price, as chair, provided a different recommendation, that the council provide direction on a design concept. The staff paper included a results table which ranked the three design concepts based on the quantitative feedback received.
We felt as a tick box/preferred option approach was not the direction given by the council, nor the desired outcome, we accepted the chair's recommendation and presented a new substantive motion after much analysis of the submissions.
This new motion truly represented the qualitative feedback received from our community and key stakeholders.
Our resolution was debated at this meeting and then double-debated at the council meeting on Tuesday, March 5. Initially supported 12 to 1, with Mayor Dalton the only vote against the resolution, the second vote was unanimous.
In forming our resolution, all submissions were considered, with a greater weighting being given to those that provided comment on their views, those from key stakeholders who understood the historical and legal background of the War Memorial and those that provided context that this was the reinstatement of memorial elements to the memorial site and building as opposed to a new memorial.
This concept was pivotal in ensuring the elements were reinstated in keeping with the conditions imposed in the original memorial grant provided by central government and in honouring the families and community members who funded a significant part of the original memorial building cost.
Reading through the detail of the submissions showed the community's desire to pay homage to the original 1957 Guy Natusch design whilst also acknowledging the practicalities of returning the Perpetual Flame to its later position inside the building, as it was from the mid-1990s.
The Perpetual Flame will, therefore, form part of the centre's entrance so all users of the building will pass by this. It will also be visible 24 hours a day from the exterior and visually connected to the Roll of Honour.
The Roll of Honour will be located at the existing Floral Clock site. However, it will be raised to be seamless with the centre's forecourt. It will be connected to the building in a curved wall reflective of the War Memorial Centre architecture.
Other aspects which came through in the consultation were the desire for the inclusion of water, seating and artwork to allow for respectful, quiet contemplation.
The design brief in our resolution incorporates all these factors, takes the best features from each of the three consulted design concepts and pulls them together, it recognises the building and whole site are key elements of the memorial, along with the Roll of Honour and Perpetual Flame.
We believe this design brief truly reflects the wishes of you our community and in particular those for whom the War Memorial holds special significance. The concept design and drawings will now come back to the council for approval before tendering for its construction later this year.
We know there was some apprehension and concerns that this process would result in "design by committee" so we thank councillors and staff for remaining open minded and providing our community with this opportunity.
As governors, we need to have faith in the people we serve, engage in an open transparent way and empower them to get involved in local decision-making.
We thank the key stakeholders for the significant contributions they have made over the past two years and for also recognising that this needs to be a community-led process which may at times require compromise.
Lastly, we thank all the members of the public who made submissions to the survey and provided us with the feedback to pull together this design brief, a design we can proudly say has been led by you, our community.
• Kirsten Wise and Annette Brosnan are Napier City councillors.