Community Shocked At Plans To Sell Iconic Heritage Soldiers’ Memorial Church
Plans to sell the iconic heritage St David’s Church, also known as the Soldiers’ Memorial Church’ on Auckland’s Khyber Pass has shocked the community that has been actively campaigning to preserve it since 2014.
The decision by the Presbyterian Trust to put the potential three-site development block up for tender – just after Anzac Day – has blindsided the Friends of St David’s Trust, a community charity that has been advocating to protect the memorial church, hall and adjoining carpark.
“While this lack of consultation is hugely disappointing, our focus remains steadfast on the preservation of our taonga which is a sacred place built in honour of our soldiers, and a special space for all New Zealanders,” Paul Baragwanath, Chair of Friends of St David’s Trust said.
He is inviting the Presbyterian Trust to place a covenant on a sale-purchase agreement for the memorial church to enable the Friends of St David’s Trust to own the building and repurpose it as a centre for acoustic music.
“We have already invested $100,000 to commission a fully researched proposal and business plan to bring this dream alive so it would be the principled next step,” he said.
The RSA and the Royal New Zealand Engineers Charitable Trust have also united in support behind the Trust to protect the church from possible redevelopment as offices, apartments, or nightclub.
This Saturday 24 April at 5pm at its ANZAC service outside the church, the Friends of St David’s Trust will be officially announcing a new initiative to transform the church into St David’s Centre.
“It’s a match made in Heaven for musical performances given it has the most incredible acoustics, that have been verified by consultants, Marshall Day.”
RSA President, BJ Clark said the church was paid for and built as a living memorial to the lives lost in WW1 so it needs to be protected. This needs to be written into the deed of sale.
Joe Hollander, on behalf of the RNZE (Royal NZ Engineers) Charitable Trust, said St David’s said, “It is an important military and military engineering heritage site which needs to be retained and preserved. It is quite simply our Auckland home.”
Artist Max Gimblett, whose brass Remembrance quatrefoils covered the church in 2015 has also added to the chorus of support.
“This is devastating news. The Presbyterian Church must place a covenant on the title to protect the sacredness of St David’s and its role as a living memorial in the community. It must continue – lest we forget.”
Saturday 5pm – ANZAC Eve service
70 Khyber Pass, Uptown, Auckland
Friends of St David’s Trust is holding its annual and possibly last ANZAC Eve Memorial Service on the grounds of the Church at 5pm sharp on Saturday evening, 24 April, and will be announcing details of its proposal for the future of St David’s as a centre for music for the Auckland region. It will be attended by members of the New Zealand Army which has been associated with St David’s since 1927. All welcome to this outdoor service.
About St David’s
St David’s was built and dedicated The Soldiers’ Memorial Church in October 1927 and chosen by the RNZE (Royal New Zealand Engineers) as their church. It holds the Sappers’ Memorial Chapel, RNZE Roles of Honour WWI and WWII and the RNZE Memorial Window.