River site tipped for quake memorial

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 11/07/2014
avon river
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
RIVER SETTING: The proposed Christchurch earthquake memorial is like to be on the Avon River near the city.

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The Government is set to release plans for Christchurch's earthquake memorial tomorrow.

The Press understands the site, to be announced at an event tomorrow, will be on the Avon River in the central city.

Designers will be asked to submit proposals for the memorial, which will be decided by a panel that includes a representative of victims' families.

The memorial is expected to be unveiled in time for the February quake's fifth anniversary in 2016.

Tomorrow's announcement at Regatta on Avon, near the Bridge of Remembrance, will be attended by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Ngai Tahu's Mark Solomon. Families of the 185 victims received invitations this week.

No other details were made available yesterday.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority referred questions from The Press to Brownlee's office, which said it would not release details before the weekend.

Maan Alkaisi, who lost wife Maysoon Abbas in the CTV building collapse, said he was pleased with the memorial's riverside location.

The designers had a lot of space and a "really nice environment" to work with, he said.

"It represents really well what the Christchurch city centre is all about . . . and [is] something to honour those people who we lost, which is very important. I'm really looking forward to seeing something happen there."

Alkaisi said CTV families he had spoken to were happy for the permanent memorial to have a separate site.

"As long as there's going to be something at the CTV site, it will always be very special for us."

He hoped the memorial would "tell the stories" of the 185 victims.

"Most of those people were working to the last second of their lives and, hopefully, the architect and designer will capture those stories and translate them into the memorial."

Tim Elms, whose daughter Teresa died in the quake, said Cera staff had been "very good" at keeping families informed.

Cera hosted a presentation earlier this year where the design and construction process was explained and international examples of memorials shown, he said.

Officials "must have struggled" to decide where the memorial should be placed but the river site was "neutral territory", Elms said.

The site and design of a permanent quake memorial has remained a mystery since the

central-city blueprint was announced in July 2012.

Cera deputy chief executive of social and cultural recovery, Michelle Mitchell, said in February the process could not be rushed.

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"Although we want to move as quickly as possible, if we rush this process then we will fail in our shared desire to provide a fitting and lasting memorial to those who we lost and to the enormous shared experience that our community has been through [since the September 2010 quake]," she said.

David Killick, a Press columnist, said a memorial did not have to be "grandiose or expensive".

"It can be clear and simple. Just a large piece of stone inscribed with names and details of the tragedy."

Lincoln University associate professor of landscape architecture Jacky Bowring has said international trends point to a memorial "more like a place rather than a thing".

- The Press

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