The Prime Minister has announced today that the Memorial Park is to be a Park, and not a motorway. Hooray for common sense, good taste, sensible planning, appropriate responses, and joined up thinking.

There has evidently been a fair bit of quiet contemplative thought going on with this proposal, and what seems to have been happening is some good cross-party agreements, that what is best for New Zealand is to have a Memorial Park worthy of its name. No one liked the proposal of a motorway through the park, which is what a five lane highway at ground level would have been – and so good sense has prevailed.

No doubt, we’ll be seeing and hearing more about this. For now, a quiet celebration is in order!


13 responses to “Memorial Park”

  1. Hooray for this decision, its is a far better trasnport solution for Wellington and a far better community solution reducing segregation and providing space for a well deserved National War Memorial.

    Surely this decision brings back into consideration Option X (or a variant) for the basin reserve improvements. The preliminary assessment of Option X by OPUS for NZTA said that “If the government decided to fund a Buckle Street tunnel then Option X could be considered further along with Option F or Option A and B linking to a tunnel.”

    Well the government has decided to fund the underground section of Buckle st, time to bring option X back to life.

  2. Here’s the official announcement link:
    “Prime Minister John Key this morning announced the park would be the Government’s key project to commemorate the Centenary of the World War One and the centrepiece of Anzac Day commemorations in 2015.

    “The National War Memorial Park will be a significant legacy to commemorate the centenary of Anzac Day. This will be an enduring reminder to our children and their children, so they can better understand our past.”

    The park would combine the national memorial precinct, including the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the National War Memorial, the Hall of Memories and the National Carillion.

    They are currently divided by State Highway 1 but would be brought together by undergrounding Buckle St, between Tory and Taranaki Streets.

    “It will give this country the setting it deserves to commemorate more than 300,000 New Zealanders who have served their country,” Key said.

  3. The Mayor seems quite happy with the decision as well:

    Memorial Park Decision a Victory for Nation

    Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon have welcomed today’s announcement that a Memorial Park befitting Wellington’s status as the capital of New Zealand will be created. This morning, Prime Minister John Key announced the establishment of Memorial Park in front of the National War Memorial on Buckle Street. A key feature of the project will be a cut-and-cover of State Highway 1, to run beneath the park, to Taranaki Street.

    “The establishment of an appropriate Memorial Park is a great outcome for Wellington and the nation,” said Mayor Wade-Brown. “This is a victory for long-term thinking about Memorial Park. I warmly congratulate the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues for this outstanding decision and appreciate the bipartisan approach taken.

    “The National War Memorial is New Zealand’s foremost commemorative site. As our capital, Wellington is the right place to reflect on the courage, sacrifice and achievements of our nation. Memorial Park will be special for all New Zealanders, a place of remembrance and contemplation. Today’s decision respects the area, and ensures the establishment of a lasting and appropriate memorial to all who have served our country,” she said.

    Deputy Mayor and Lambton Ward Councillor Ian McKinnon says the decision provides benefits at three levels.
    “For New Zealand, ensuring a Memorial Park for which all New Zealanders can be proud; For Wellington, a new park in the city centre with an outlook over the city and harbour; and for the locality, giving greater safety for pedestrians, particularly students at Massey University and Wellington High School, and the young people attending Mt Cook School. It will be a wonderful addition for the city in all respects. New Zealand will commemorate the centenary of Gallipoli in 2015 on ANZAC Day in a respectful setting that the nation, the city and our Australian colleagues can feel proud of,” said Cr McKinnon.

  4. Stephen Avatar

    I think it is great that the road is to be put into a trench underground.

    As it is not been issued as part of the total roading solution – I just hope its design does not impact the future roading options for linking Mt Vic to the Terrace Motorway.

    For example could the trench cater for two way traffic solution if Karo drive were ever widened. or for that matter if Karo drive were ever to be put into its own trench.

  5. Stephen – Could the trench cater for two-way traffic? I’m sure the design team would be able to answer that question – but judging by the picture above, at this point the answer would appear to be No.

  6. Editorial Avatar

    DomPost editorial today reads:
    ” OPINION: Sandwiched between a busy urban road and Massey University’s Wellington campus, the significance of the National War Memorial has long been underplayed.

    The decision to develop a memorial park in front of the monument finally accords New Zealand’s foremost commemorative site the status it warrants.

    Thankfully, in a city in which too many cheap options have been taken – think the two-lane Mt Victoria tunnel or the three-lane Terrace tunnel – ministers and Wellington City Council have agreed to do the job once and to do it properly.

    Instead of shifting Buckle St a few metres to the north and grassing the area at present covered by tarmac as initially proposed, the road will be routed through a covered trench beneath the park.

    The cost of digging the trench – $70 million to $75m – will be greater than shifting the road, but this is not a project in which corners should be cut.

    About 30,000 New Zealanders have lost their lives serving in the Boer War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, the Vietnam War and international peacekeeping operations. Their sacrifice should be recognised in an appropriate manner and the memorial, together with the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the Hall of Memories and the National Carillon, should be sited in a tranquil setting, conducive to quiet reflection, not next to a busy road. The new park, scheduled for completion in time for the 2015 centenary of the Gallipoli landings, accomplishes both goals.

    For that thanks are due to the last Labour government which bought the land across the road from the memorial, Mt Cook residents, who agitated against repositioning Buckle St on the boundary of Mt Cook School, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson, who scrapped the original proposal when he recognised it did not have community support, Wellington Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon, who lobbied all and sundry on the importance of getting it right, and Prime Minister John Key, who reportedly threw his weight behind the more expensive option.

    In the words of Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, whose roading officials favoured the cheaper alternative, an underground road was “the only sensible option”. However, sensible and governments do not always go hand in hand.

    The finished park will be testament to the fact that sometimes they do.

    For that the country, the capital and the immediate neighbourhood have reason to be grateful. New Zealand gets a setting in which the sacrifices of the country’s war dead are properly recognised, the capital gets a new park and confirmation that it is the pre-eminent location for commemorating the events that played such a pivotal role in shaping the national identity, and the neighbourhood gets an attractive new amenity strategically located between Mt Cook School, Massey University and Wellington High School.”

  7. Article Avatar

    And in a related article on the DomPost:

    “Special legislation will be passed fast-tracking an $80m “cut and cover” trench beneath Buckle St to develop Wellington’s National War Memorial Park.

    Prime Minister John Key said work would begin in October, provided Parliament supported the Memorial Park Enabling Act. The move would bypass resource consent hurdles required for other big roading projects.

    “We’ve consulted widely with all of the community so it’s not contentious,” he said, announcing the plan yesterday. “Obviously it’s supported by the [Mt Cook] School, and the ratepayers, and others.”

    Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson said Labour would support the new legislation after years of frustrating delays.

    But Green Party transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said the high cost and use of emergency powers showed the Government had left the important work to the last minute, “after previously cancelling the project in 2009″.

    The project involves lowering Buckle St between Tory and Taranaki streets using a covered trench design. The area overhead will link the memorial park with the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and the National War Memorial. It is to be completed before the Gallipoli landings centenary on Anzac Day 2015.

    Mr Key said the memorial would serve as an enduring reminder, honouring those Kiwis who had served their country. The Australian Government will also spend A$5m (NZ$6.4m) on a memorial to its servicemen at the site.

    The Transport Agency will fund the $70m undergrounding project. Development of the park will cost about $12m, with Wellington City Council chipping in $2.1m and the rest coming from the Culture and Heritage Ministry.

    NZTA Wellington state highways manager Rod James said the project would complement other planned improvements between the Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels, including the future shape of the Basin Reserve flyover, which will be announced next week.

    Some Mt Cook residents fought an alternative plan to realign Buckle St 40 metres north, fearing it would endanger pupils and increase pollution. Spokesman Peter Cooke said yesterday that dropping the road underground would make the park safer and encourage more people to visit.

    Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the city council had unanimously supported the trenched design. “[The] decision respects the area, and ensures the establishment of a lasting and appropriate memorial to all who have served our country.”

    But city councillor Iona Pannett said council officers believed the trench would cost closer to $100m. She called for the costings to be made public. She was also uneasy with the Government bypassing wider public consultation and resource consent hurdles. “Sure, the local community wants it. But it’s not just about the local community in this case. When you’re talking about that many millions of dollars, you have to be really cautious.”

    Greater Wellington regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde was delighted with the decision to fast-track memorial park and hoped the same would happen with the Basin Reserve flyover.

  8. Linda Grieve Avatar
    Linda Grieve

    Why, oh why, is NZTA persisting with the Basin Reserve flyover town planning disaster? I despair. In which century are Fran Wilde and Rod James of NZTA living? Option X is a far better design solution to the rush half hour at each end of the working day.

  9. Hooray!

    Perhaps a monumental national Memorial, or at least one that actually shows signs of respect for those who have fallen in the service of their country, is just what we need as a young nation aspiring to find ourselves in the world. Perhaps this is going to be a major step towards establishing/evolving our national identity and strengthening our sense of place. A key-stone for the future building of a nation. I’m all for it.


  10. Linda Grieve Avatar
    Linda Grieve

    I agree with putting the road underground at the National War Memorial Park. (I failed to mention this in post 8.)

  11. Tomek – identity building around wars is so Old World. Surely we can do better than inventing/subscribing to nation building myths built around our role in an inter-tribal European war? And that isn’t to disrespect the role NZ has played in war, or those in particular who have ‘fallen’ in doing so, but war, although an inevitable part of our history, does not sum us up as a people. Why not monumentalise at this sort of scale the Maori Land Wars for example – an even more salient historical event given that the blood was shed on these very lands?

    With all that said, the landbridge over a trenched SH1 is a good result* for the Memorial Park. I await the results of the Basin flyover decision with less optimism however.

    *Although I’ve had it put to me that breakfasts for kids at school might be a better spend of that amount of money…

  12. Petit dejeuner Avatar
    Petit dejeuner

    m-d : i too have heard the argument that money would be better spent on breakfasts for choildren / homeless / insert your favoured diaspora of the dispossessed here.

    That’s a misnomer. Whether there is a park here or not, and whether it is going to be underground or not, there is still going to be money spent. May as well make sure that the money is spent wisely, and in a way that will benefit us all, rather than throw it away on a short term solution that has to be ‘redone’ again in the near future.

  13. Stephen Avatar

    I tried to find out from NZTA if the design of Memorial Park trench was linked to their plans.

    This is the response.

    Thanks for your email to Frank Fernandez of 8 August regarding the Wellington Inner-city Transport Improvements. The NZ Transport Agency is considering the feedback from the community that we received as part of the Cobham Drive-Buckle Street Transport Improvements public consultation in mid 2011. On the Paterson-Tory Street Bridge around the Basin Reserve, we will be announcing our final decision on Option A or B this week. On the Aiport-Mt Victoria Tunnel project, we will announce how it will take shape late this year and engage the community on this project once a decision has been made. On the Terrace Tunnel duplication project, we will begin investigations into a second tunnel during the current financial year but have scheduled for construction to begin after 2020.

    Kind regards,

    Rob Addison
    Community & Stakeholder Liaison Advisor
    Roads of National Significance Investigations – Wellington
    Highways & Network Operations
    DDI 04 894 6403

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