Australian touch for war memorial

The Australian Memorial is seen from the National War Memorial, looking towards Wellington CBD.
The Australian Memorial is seen from the National War Memorial, looking towards Wellington CBD.

A "rugged red sandstone" sculpture, surrounded by eucalypt trees, will be built in Wellington’s National War Memorial Park as a tribute to Australian soldiers.

Details of the A$5 million (NZ$6,170,174) memorial, including artists impressions, were announced by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in Queenstown this morning.

Designed by Australian architects, the memorial will feature 15 columns made from rugged red sandstone, symbolic of Australia's "Red Centre", surrounded by eucalypt trees, representing the Australian landscape.

It will be situated within the war memorial park precinct in Buckle St, which is being built in time for the centenary anniversary of the Gallipoli landings on Anzac Day 2015.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the memorial’s announcement was a significant step forward in the park’s construction.

"Memorial Park, Pukeahu, will be a place of remembrance and contemplation, a place to reflect on war and peace, and a place to acknowledge the very special relationship between New Zealand and Australia."

Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon said the capital was the most appropriate location for what will be New Zealand’s foremost commemorative site.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson said the ‘‘powerful and affecting design" would be a fitting tribute to the relationship between Australian and New Zealand troops.

"It is significant that the first new memorial in the park will be Australia’s, a nation with which we share such an extensive military heritage."

The Australian Memorial is a reciprocal gesture to the New Zealand Memorial built on Anzac Parade in Canberra. It will be  funded by the Australian Government.

Last month, the NZ Transport Agency began digging up Buckle St, between Taranaki and Tory Sts, which will be transformed into a ‘cut and cover’ tunnel so the memorial precinct can be built above.

This will be made up of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the National War Memorial, the Hall of Memories and the National Carillon, which is currently divided by State Highway 1.

It will commemorate more than 300,000 New Zealanders who have served their country and the 30,000 who have died.

The Government is funding most of the project, which is expected to cost about $80 million. Wellington City Council is chipping in $5m.

The Dominion Post