Sport group told to keep off Cenotaph

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 08:00 13/11/2012
Cenotaph
Kelly Hodel/Fairfax NZ
TO THE FALLEN: Hamilton City Council says use of the cenotaph as a gym is not appropriate.
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The Hamilton City Council has ordered a Hamilton personal training business to stop using the Cenotaph in Memorial Park as a substitute gym, saying it was an "inappropriate" use of the space.

It follows a report by the Waikato Times that Storey Sport had been using the Cenotaph - which honours New Zealand's fallen soldiers - to hold its boot-camp-style classes at lunchtime for several months.

The practice was criticised by people who considered such use of the Cenotaph disrespectful.

Hamilton City Council Parks and Open Spaces manager Sally Sheedy told the Times the council agreed.

"We also agree that it is not appropriate to have the Cenotaph used in this way and have today contacted Storey Sport to ask them to stop exercising on the Cenotaph - which they're happy to do," she said.

"We've also made them aware of the need to book the park area they want to use with us so we can ensure it doesn't clash with other events booked, as well as with any planned work in this area.

"We welcome use being made of our city's beautiful parks and open spaces, but do need those using them in an organised way to link in with us to make the appropriate booking."

Storey Sport's trainer Sally Mellor had previously said the business did not need the council's permission to use the Cenotaph as an exercise aid.

Storey Sport's clients had been using the steps of the memorial for resistance training and a place to rest gym bags, water bottles and yoga mats.

The word cenotaph comes from the Greek for "empty tomb"; they are built to honour those whose remains are elsewhere, usually due to war.

Former soldier Adrian Gould said there were plenty of other nearby steps and park benches that people could use.

"I think [using the Cenotaph] shows a lack of respect for what the memorial stands for," he said.

Hamiltonian Greg Wells said it was disrespectful. "It is a memorial, not a piece of exercise equipment."

"It is true that those represented on the Cenotaph lost their lives so we may enjoy the freedoms that we do, but I don't think that means treading on the very monument that represents."

Others, however, were quick to say that homeless people often occupy the park, which to them was of greater concern. Dale Kirk said he had seen "much worse" in the park and urged opponents to "lighten up".

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