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RSA to apply for resource consent to relocate Memorial

The Christchurch Memorial Returned and Services Association (RSA) wants to ensure public access to the Citizens’ War Memorial by relocating it to Cranmer Square.

Pete Dawson, RSA President, says, “Relocation will allow safe, unimpeded public access to the memorial while the Christ Church Cathedral is reinstated. Since the 2011 February earthquake, the memorial has been inaccessible for people to pay their respects, apart from limited access on Anzac Day.

“The RSA does not believe that the current location for the Citizens’ War Memorial (irrespective of earthquake issues) provides the appropriate setting. Our preference is for the memorial to be moved to Cranmer Square, which has a long history of association with the military, including the holding of military events. The RSA believes Cranmer Square is a very suitable site because it has a long history of holding military events.

“The first Anzac Day commemoration was held in Cranmer Square in 1916, and then every year until 1937, when the Citizens’ War Memorial was erected in Cathedral Square to commemorate the 4,398 Cantabrians who died in the First World War,” says Dawson.

The RSA will apply for resource consent later this year for the relocation and will request that it be publicly notified, so the Christchurch community can have a say on the proposed relocation.

Dawson says that for some time the RSA has called for this relocation.

“We understand some people might be opposed to the relocation and we will contact them to explain our views. We will also hold community drop-in sessions at the RSA for people to learn more about why Cranmer Square is the most appropriate setting for the memorial.”

Financial assistance has been secured to meet the cost estimate of up to $1.2m for the resource consent process, strengthening and repair, and shifting of the Citizens’ War Memorial. Funding and support of $200k will be provided by Land Information NZ, $543k from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust, specifically tagged to support a heritage project, and up to $500k from Church Property Trustees (all GST exclusive).These costs do not include any money from Christchurch ratepayers.

The Citizens’ War Memorial is owned by Church Property Trustees (CPT) on behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. Bishop of Christchurch Diocese Peter Carrell says, “CPT supports the RSA’s consent application and, following consultation with key stakeholders, we’re delighted to announce that CPT will gift ownership of the memorial to the citizens of Christchurch following relocation.

“What many people might not know is that in 1934, when the Cathedral Chapter and Church Property Trustees agreed a war memorial could be placed on the grass plot on the north side of the Christ Church Cathedral, it was on the condition ‘that if at any time in the future the land be required for Cathedral purposes the memorial shall be removed without expense to the Chapter or Cathedral funds.’[1]

“Relocation is consistent with the original agreement between the Christchurch War Memorial Association Inc., the Church Property Trustees and the Cathedral Chapter and will ensure the safety of the Citizens’ War Memorial.

“The relocation will also allow repair and strengthening work to be carried out on the memorial. There is some damage due to the earthquakes and significantly corroded steel beneath the memorial’s surface,” says Bishop Peter.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel says, “there are a number of issues that need to be taken into account in the resource consent process, including the history that saw the Cenotaph developed as a Citizens’ War Memorial, as opposed to a Civic War Memorial, and the significance of the place it holds in Cathedral Square, which was the desire of George Gould, who led the campaign for the memorial.

“On the other hand, it has been a shame that such a significant part of our heritage has been locked away from public view for so long and that there are still years that lie ahead when the Memorial will have to be further protected. These are the issues that the citizens of Christchurch must weigh up when the application is notified.

“At the same time as this process is initiated, the Council will need to resolve to hold a formal consultation on the proposed location, as Cranmer Square is a Reserve subject to the Reserves Act 1977 and is a listed heritage item in its own right in the District Plan. We will expect staff to provide options as to how to link these consultations so it is clear what all the issues are,” says Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Heritage New Zealand supports the proposed relocation as it will facilitate the reinstatement of the Cathedral and enable appropriate long term public access to the war memorial.

Sheila Watson, Director, Southern Region Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, says, “Once relocated to Cranmer Square the memorial will still have heritage values and the historic list entry will be amended to reflect the values of its new location.”

Keith Paterson, Project Director of Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement says, there will be additional construction constraints during the Cathedral’s reinstatement should the Citizens’ War Memorial remain in its present location. “The relocation of the memorial will make the Cathedral reinstatement more efficient,” he says.

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