National War Memorial Park a fitting tributeArts, Culture and Heritage Transport
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson have today announced details of a National War Memorial Park to be developed in time for Anzac Day 2015.
The National War Memorial Park was announced by the Prime Minister this morning outside the National War Memorial in Wellington.
The National War Memorial Park will link together the elements of the national memorial precinct which consists of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the National War Memorial, the Hall of Memories and the National Carillion. The precinct is currently divided by State Highway 1.
“The National War Memorial Park will provide a space for people to congregate on major occasions or reflect at any time on the sacrifices made for this country in the past,” Mr Finlayson said.
“The number of people attending ANZAC Day celebrations is increasing and immediate space around the War Memorial is more often than not at full capacity. This shows the importance New Zealanders attach to our military history, and the reverence we continue to have for such occasions.”
The park will also provide an opportunity to recognise military conflicts not subject to a national memorial in this country, such as New Zealand’s ongoing role in peacekeeping.
Mr Brownlee says that undergrounding the road that currently runs alongside the National War Memorial was the only sensible option.
“A national war memorial is a very important site,” Mr Brownlee said.
“It should be a place for remembrance and appreciation. It should also be able to be used by everyone.
“Currently the State Highway 1 stretch of Buckle Street runs straight through the memorial precinct and divides different parts from each other. The undergrounding of the road will unite the precinct; increase the accessibility of the National War Memorial, and limit the effects of traffic on visitors as they contemplate history.”
“This is a first, best option, not any kind of compromise solution for such an important project,” Mr Brownlee said.
It is estimated development of the park will cost $12 million. Wellington City Council has agreed to contribute $2.11 million to the cost. The undergrounding project for Buckle Street will cost $70-75 million, and will be overseen by the New Zealand Transport Agency.
“I want to thank the Wellington City Council for recognising the importance of this project to the capital city, as well as the country as a whole,” Mr Finlayson said.
Preliminary development of former commercial land alongside Buckle Street was completed in April 2011, to create a public space. The National War Memorial Park will join this area up with the memorial. The Australian government has contributed AU$5 million for the development of an Australian memorial, which will stand opposite the National War Memorial.
Legislation will be introduced into Parliament shortly to ensure the National War Memorial Park is ready for the centenary of Anzac Day in 2015. It is expected construction will start in October this year.
The development of the National War Memorial Park will take place in three further steps. State Highway 1 will be diverted via a temporary road to the north of its current alignment in order for works undergrounding Buckle Street to be undertaken.
Construction of the main undergrounding work will begin in early 2013. Landscaping of the park itself and establishing structures (such as the Australian memorial) will begin in late 2014.
Mr Finlayson said today’s announcement was the result of a great deal of groundwork.
“There has been a great deal of consultation over recent years with the nearby Mt Cook School, residents groups, the Wellington City Council, and the New Zealand Returned Services Association to ensure the final design of the park is one that not only New Zealanders can be proud of, but which improves the environment for the park’s neighbouring community as well.”