War memorial park all but completed

IN PLACE: A statue was installed on Monday at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
Ashten Macdonald

IN PLACE: A statue was installed on Monday at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

The finishing touches are about to be applied to the new war memorial park in Wellington - a month ahead of schedule.

The $120 million Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and underpass project was announced in August 2012 and construction was fast-tracked to ensure it was ready for the 100th anniversary commemorations of the Gallipoli landings next month.

Major construction is now finished, plants and paving have been installed and fences will come down around most of the park after a dawn blessing next week. The grass and plants will remain out of bounds to ensure the park is in top condition in April.

The project received special dispensation from the Wellington City Council to continue using sprinklers despite the current ban.

Maori carvings and a statue have been installed in the Tangata Whenua Gardens at the base of the war memorial steps.

The original deadline of April 25 was brought forward to March 25 and work was going so well the park was now ahead of that deadline as well, Ministry of Culture and Heritage manager of heritage projects Brodie Stubbs said.

"[It's] hard to believe that 2 1/2 years ago, when we first broke ground, we would be getting to this point ahead of time.

"All credit for that has to go to Memorial Park Alliance for how they handled the project."

Stubbs has been involved in the project since its conception in 2002. Seeing the transformation from a drawing to the laying of the grass was special, he said.

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 - The Dominion Post

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