Napier City Council criticised for not consulting community over new war memorial

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Attempts to restore a war memorial in Napier have been described as an ongoing “failure of democracy”.

The new design for Napier's War Memorial Centre

The new design for Napier’s War Memorial Centre Photo: SUPPLIED

In 2017, Napier City Council removed the memorial after renovating the War Memorial Centre by the town’s sea front.

The centre is used for conferences and events.

This included an eternal flame and roll of honour.

Some in the community reacted with fury once it was removed.

Last night, Napier City Council unveiled concept drawings for a new memorial.

War Memorial Recovery group spokesperson Alan Rhodes said the process had not had enough community input and had been a “failure of democracy”.

Speaking at the meeting last night, he said: “In this meeting there, I don’t see any idea or any suggestion that the people of Napier are being consulted, they are not, they are being lectured and told”.

“When I looked up there at that design, for the wall, it’s better than what’s there now, I look at that – where’s the question about what alternatives are there? What other possible designs are there?”

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Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise politely disputed this.

“Thank you Alan and whilst I respect your views about consultation, I would say that we have been out to our community on a number of occasions over the last few years. Personally in my own town huddles and the many, many community groups that I get invited to speak to, I consistently hear they are desperate to have our elements returned.”

In a piece written before the meeting, Rhodes said the restoration process was “so unbalanced and flawed it needs scrapping”.

“What really is needed is a small group of no more than 8 to 10 people including elected representatives from the council, our Community Recovery Group, service organisations such as the RSA and others, the Council of Churches, a Heritage representative, and the architect of group choice,” he said.

“Only in some such way can the community repair the damage done to its war memorial by the city council’s ignorance of trust law and proper community consultation over the last five years.”

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The city council said the design would go to the full council for formal adoption. After that, detailed drawings will be produced and costs for the project will be finalised.

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