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Work to start on new look for Cenotaph plaza


27 August 2014

Work to start on new look for Cenotaph plaza

Work on refurbishing the Cenotaph plaza in central Wellington is set to start next Monday (1 September).

This $2.5m joint venture between Wellington City Council and the Parliamentary Service will rejuvenate the plaza around the monument and feature more open space, a new public art sculpture and a grand staircase to improve pedestrian access to Parliament.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the Cenotaph will be one of the locations for remembrance during next year’s Anzac commemorations and the refurbishment will be completed before these events.

“Next year 2015 is both Gallipoli’s centenary and the 150th anniversary of Wellington becoming the Capital,” says the Mayor.

“This project elegantly links Parliament to its civic surrounds. The natural and cultural heritage will be expressed, enhancing Wellington’s sense of place.”

The Cenotaph was built in 1929 to honour soldiers killed in the First World War. Some of the original features of the monument will be restored, including garden beds and three levels of light-coloured paving that will reinstate the original shape and open space around it.

The Council is undertaking the improvements to the plaza – partially funded by a $382,000 grant awarded by the World War One Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Committee of the Lottery Grants Board as a legacy project for the commemorations.

The construction of the grand diagonal staircase is being funded by the Parliamentary Service.

Parliamentary Service General Manager David Stevenson says the project will strengthen the connection between Parliament and the Cenotaph, a Wellington landmark, in the city.

“It will also give more space for Anzac Day ceremonies and other gatherings, and create a more pedestrian-friendly area.”

As well as new lights and seats in the plaza area, a sculpture by Joe Sheehan will lead pedestrians through the plaza’s open space, along the path of Waipiro Stream (now underground), with pieces of jade laid in the paving and the sound of flowing water coming from speakers set in the ground. The $180,000 artwork is funded by the Council and Wellington Sculpture Trust.

To make way for the new-look plaza and the staircase, the public toilets on Bowen Street will be removed, as will a number of trees, including four pohutukawa and a Norfolk pine in Parliament Grounds that come out this weekend.

Chair of the Council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee Andy Foster says the redesign is part of the city’s overall plan to improve the area around Parliament.

“Having a dynamic central city means creating high quality surroundings that include attractive parks and squares to encourage people to spend time outdoors. The refurbished Cenotaph precinct will be one of these special areas.

“This part of Wellington has tremendous significance for iwi, going all the way back to Māori settlement in pre-European times. The Cenotaph upgrade will greatly enhance the heritage of the monument and the city’s culture and history.”

A blessing will be held at the Cenotaph before work starts.

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