Private sites considered for quake memorial

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2013

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The Government is considering taking land to build Christchurch's earthquake memorial but is staying tight-lipped on where it will go.

The memorial, sanctioned under the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan and overseen by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, will be unveiled on February 22, 2016 - the fifth anniversary of the tragedy.

The man leading the project for the ministry, deputy chief executive Ronald Milne, confirmed privately-owned sites were being considered, and, if one was chosen, would have a significant effect on whether the project's entire $10 million budget was used. "If we don't have to acquire land, the cost of the memorial will probably be very much less," he said.

Milne was coy about possible locations, and an announcement is not due until later this year. A location shortlist was created from 13 central-city sites, he said.

"Some of them were non-starters for one reason or another.

"They have their pluses and minuses. We'll explain the rationale when we talk about site selection."

The memorial's location is a sensitive topic, and was deliberately left out of last year's 100-day central city blueprint.

A memorial on the site of a major loss of life, such as that of the CTV building, could be seen to underplay the significance of lives lost elsewhere. A ‘neutral' location is likely. When a site is chosen, an international design competition will be launched.

The only certainty on that so far is that there will be some community representation on the judging panel.

MCH has sent letters to all bereaved families and many seriously injured quake victims, including those now living overseas, inviting their input.

"They've been invited to contact us if they've got any ideas or questions or want to know more," Milne said.

"We'll be keeping them up to date on a regular basis."

Lincoln University associate professor of landscape architecture, Jacky Bowring, said sites of significance for the earthquake brought "a very complex, tense set of meanings".

"There were . . . a lot of places where people lost their lives, there are a lot of experiences that we all had in the city and no one site can deal with all those things over and above the others.

"It almost has to be a site that doesn't favour any particular meaning."

A good memorial should not be too literal, she said.

"They don't tend to be statue on a podium. They tend to be more something that require you to experience them.

"More like a place rather than a thing. They might be challenged by it in some ways, because often it requires you to participate a lot more than if you just go in there and read a plaque . . . and you move on without necessarily feeling anything."

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- The Press

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