The Mayoral Advisory Group for the World War 1 Centenary Memorial Project met this week (26 June), following the decision by the New Zealand Lotteries Commission not to fund the council’s Auckland Domain memorial project.
The advisory group, which is tasked with securing funding and progressing the project, recommended pausing the project while other opportunities, including funding, are explored. Its recommendations will be made to Mayor Phil Goff.
Advisory group chair, Councillor Christine Fletcher, says this is an unfortunate situation that may slow progress but in no way diminishes the council’s desire to commemorate the impact of war on Aucklanders.
“Te Takuahi – the hearth was planned as a way of commemorating the significant contribution and sacrifice made by all Aucklanders during the First World War and immediately after when peace broke out.
“Its intention was to honour those that kept our nation going while war ravaged Europe, to acknowledge those that gave up family members and loved ones, and to provide a place of contemplation in keeping with the existing memorials to the fallen at Auckland Domain.
”While it is disappointing to have missed out on this significant funding application, we respect the decision made by the Commission and are taking a careful look at how we progress options for the memorial – this includes looking at opportunities to widen the focus of the project beyond the First World War,” she says.
Pausing the project means its completion will not coincide with Peace centenary commemorations in July 2019 however the construction timeline will be revisited in the future.
“It was always intended that this project would have an independent cornerstone funding partner, supplemented by the council’s $1 million contribution and any other grant or philanthropic contributions,” says Cr Fletcher.
“We see this move as an opportunity to refocus our approach and consider whether this tribute can be extended to commemorate the impact of all wars on Aucklanders,” she says.
The budget for ‘Te Takuahi – the hearth’ is a little more than $3 million, of which the council has pledged $1 million in its 10-year Budget (Long-term Plan). The proposal for the memorial project identified the remaining $2 million would be sourced from grants and philanthropic support. The council is also very clear that no further ratepayer funding will be allocated to the project.
Deputy chair of the advisory group David McGregor says it is disappointing to have to make this recommendation and he is hopeful the sentiment behind Te Takuahi can still be acknowledged in Auckland.
“We are coming to the end of four years of remembrance around the centenary of the First World War and we had hoped to mark the 1919-2019 Peace commemorations with the completion of Te Takuahi.
“We hope that the work done during the commemorative period 2014-2018 in honouring the impact of war on Aucklanders will contribute in the future to a suitable memorial,” says Mr McGregor.