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Revamping memorial

DANIELLE STREET
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012
Garth Houltham
Danielle Street

NOT FORGOTTEN: Puketapapa Historical Society president Garth Houltham is spearheading a project to upgrade the Mt Roskill War Memorial.

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Men and women who lost their lives in service of the country may receive a belated tribute as plans get rolling to upgrade an "unattractive" war memorial.

Questions were raised following this year's Anzac Day ceremony about why the Mt Roskill War Memorial is lacking the names of service people.

Puketapapa Historical Society president Garth Houltham says the reason is unclear, but it needs to be remedied.

"I think what originally happened was they had an appeal in the community for names when it was built after the second world war, and I don't think they got many names, so they may have been embarrassed," he says. "The other suggestion was that there was a wooden plaque that was meant to go up in the hall but that never happened."

The society has been researching names of Mt Roskill residents to confirm whether they served the country in war time.

"We've got about 30 names at the moment that we are working on but it's not about the numbers, it's the fact that the people deserve their names recorded."

Mr Houltham says the area surrounding the granite memorial is unattractive but has lots of potential.

Recommendations for the upgrade put forward to the Puketapapa Local Board include landscaping, more seating, floodlighting and a peace memorial.

Mr Houltham says the paved parade area also needs to be increased to accommodate the growing number of Anzac Day attendees.

Puketapapa Local Board heritage spokesperson Michael Wood attends the Anzac celebrations at the May Rd site every year and says he is enthusiastic about the project.

"The war memorial is a beloved local icon but clearly it can be improved," he says.

"Anzac Day celebrations have grown hugely in the last five to 10 years and this year it's at the point where it is getting marginal because the numbers of people attending have swelled so much."

The heritage society is hoping to get some financial contribution from the board for the improvements but is mostly looking to engage Roskill-ites in the project.

The next step will be establishing a committee of businesses, church groups, schools and individuals that are interested in fundraising.

"It would be great to raise the money from the community as much as possible, rather than using the ratepayers money," Mr Houltham says.

No design plans have been put to paper yet. However Auckland University's school of architecture has already shown an interest in working on the project. Any plans would have to be signed off by the local board as it owns the grounds.

Mr Houltham says they would like to work in stages, with the goal of completion for the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015.

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