Construction of the National War Memorial Park in Buckle Street was declared underway, following a sod-turning ceremony and blessing of the site on Buckle Street in Wellington, by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson.
The park is the Government’s key project to acknowledge the Centenary of the First World War, and is intended to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing on Anzac day 2015.
“The archaeological investigations and preliminary enabling works have already started for this project so it is important to gather and bless the site and construction work which will be starting in earnest soon,” Mr Finlayson said.
“This project will seeState Highway 1 undergrounded between Tory and Taranaki Streets, in order to provide an appropriate setting for the National War Memorial, one of our most sacred places,” Mr Brownlee said. “It will allow for quiet reflection throughout the year, as well as providing space for the increasing number of New Zealanders who gather to commemorate Anzac day annually.”
“The Pukeahu National War Memorial Park will have great significance at an international, national, civic and local level,” said Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. "It will provide a beautiful space for contemplation."
The park will also provide space for other countries’ memorials with an Australian Memorial being the first to be built. The New Zealand Wars of the 1800s and more recent peacekeeping operations will also be recognised within the park.
The first phase in the development of the park will see the construction of a temporary road to divert traffic from SH1 while the undergrounding takes place. The temporary road will be in use from mid-January.
Today also marked the first meeting of the National War Memorial Park Pukeahu Community Forum, set up to provide the Minister with information and advice on the park’s development. The forum comprises at least 20 people including representatives from Wellington City Council, the New Zealand Returned Services Association, Mount Cook School and residents’ group.
“We have been consulting with a wide range of people for several years and I look forward to more input from them to ensure the final design is not only a place of significant national and international commemorations but will also improve the environment for the neighbouring community,” Mr Finlayson said.