Artist rendering

Over the summer while people are walking Marine Parade, enjoying an ice cream, going on Art Deco tours, cycling the iWay from the Ahuriri to Awatoto, action of another kind will be happening in the city, unseen by most.

Behind hoardings the War Memorial project is now well underway.

The ground has been cleared and surveyors are pegging out the site. Soon the lower pond’s concrete base will be poured. It will be a considerable journey from initial drawings to final completion and there has been much focus from the community and Council on this project. When it is complete we will all feel a sense of accomplishment, and appreciation for the many people who are helping make it happen.

War memorials are an important part of almost all places in New Zealand, from tiny townships to major cities. For over a hundred years, we’ve honoured those who gave their lives with plaques, monuments, statues, even libraries and hospitals.

For us in Napier, it is fitting that we create an architectural environment that puts our restored memorial in the centre of the Napier experience. All visitors, whether by land or sea, will come past the War Memorial. Most locals, whether there for recreation, retail, hospitality, business or simply fresh-air, will arrive at the memorial at some stage.

The concept of the restored War Memorial pays homage to the Guy Natusch original and keeps its elements. It has been designed so that, from the viewing platform, we can look over water, through the perpetual flame, past the Roll of Honour, across the beach and out to sea. This is a deliberate decision. So many of our fallen lost their lives overseas, looking out to sea is a way to be reminded of that.

It is a site that primarily responds to our desire to honour effort and sacrifice. It is a refuge that will give comfort to those who have lost loved ones. It’ll be a place where, as a community, we can remember, grieve, and pay our respects, whenever we want to.

Memorials have a wider purpose though. They remind us of the values we hold true and commemorate important parts of our collective history. A memorial must provide a sanctuary for contemplation. It must give people a place to heal. It must be enduring and inclusive, so all parts of our community feel welcome for many generations to come.

It is important that we include public spaces in our built environments. Having places of sanctuary and calm where we can reflect invites us to slow down and enjoy our city on another level. Whether it’s a pocket park or a city square, these points of connection to nature extend our experience of the city. In building new spaces, or reimagining existing ones and planning for their future, we want to include spaces that demand nothing of us but to pause.

Our restored War Memorial will be a space for all of us. It will inspire us. It will give us a place to gather as a community on significant days. It will be a place where we can feel proud of what people do for their community, and it will demonstrate our respect for those men and women front and centre in our cityscape. 

Most importantly, for families who lost loved ones in times of war, it will honour their names and their lives for years to come.


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