Feedback sought on settlers memorial plan

By Janna Sherman

An early settlers memorial proposed for Gibson Quay has been slowed down by the Westland District Council to allow more public consultation.
The council says it is worried support for the project, although approved in theory in 2012, has not been adequately tested.
The large concrete arch monument was envisaged for the Quayside steps and was expected to completed as part of the Hokitika 150th celebrations, in December. However, the project remains in limbo.
Operations manager Peter Anderson said that after the failure of the Hokitika beach access sign — which was pulled down after petitions and a public outcry — council staff were “reluctant” to approve the design and form of structures without evidence of community support.
“Council’s Hokitika beach access sign caused great controversy in 2010 when it was installed without what was perceived to be proper pubic consultation,” Mr Anderson said.
“A large structure that is built as a memorial to the early settlers of the area on public land in a prominent location is a significant undertaking and needs to have community support in both principal and the design.”
However, project leader Max Dowell, who has worked on other heritage installations on Gibson Quay, says they have both the public support and funding to build the structure, which is shaped to depict a ship at the wharf.
He agreed further public consultation was important.
“In-kind donations will enable the public to come off with a promise of all the funding, so there is no cost to the ratepayers,” Mr Dowell told the Guardian yesterday.
As it would be built of solid concrete it would require very little maintenance, he said.
Mr Anderson said once completed the council would take over the management of the memorial, but only had a budget of $10,000 a year to maintain all the other memorials and statues in Hokitika.
Two options will be put before the council meeting today: approve the design without public consultation, or undertake proper public consultation.
Mr Anderson said the project could still meet the December deadline for the 150th if the construction process was well planned.