Following the results of a new design competition announced on 15 October 2016, the Trust has appointed the Queenstown-based team of designer Paddy Baxter (of Baxter Design Group) and sculptor Shane Woolridge to build a fitting memorial to Archie – and all New Zealand’s conscientious objectors – on our new site at the corner of George and Albany Streets close to the Dunedin city centre.
After it became clear that the Trust had no realistic chance of retaining the Museum Reserve site, the Dunedin City Council offered us this alternative location. Passed by large numbers of pedestrians and vehicles every day, this site will attract many visitors and provide a talking point which other more spacious but remote sites would not. At the same time, the focal point of the memorial – the sculpture – will be raised far enough above street level to be a place for personal reflection.
Paddy’s design is inspiring, beautiful and ambitious in scope and will be complemented by a sombre yet welcoming scupture by Shane. It will be a valuable civic amenity as well as a public memorial to Archie Baxter, his companions, and indeed all conscientious objectors in all New Zealand’s wars.
While elevated well above street level and with excellent sight lines along Albany Street, the site presents designers with some practical challenges, notably the presence of buried service pipes. This means that any structure will need to be removable to allow maintenance work. Paddy and the Trust are working closely with the council to ensure that all technical requirements will be met.
The overwhelming advantage of the new site – unlike the Museum Reserve and other possible alternatives – is that it is unencumbered. Apart from the DCC, there are no other interested parties who might object to its use as a memorial. Although the present flower garden will go, it will be replaced with native plantings and other attractive landscaping features.
The final designs have been completed and approved by the Trust, and the next task will be to gain technical approval from the Dunedin City Council. With Paddy and Shane, the Trust is eager to meet the council early in the New Year to gain their full backing for this remarkable memorial and city asset.
The Trust will be doing everything it can to get the memorial completed in this important centenary year of 2017.