Gisborne Cenotaph Restoration

The Gisborne Cenotaph was erected in memory of Gisborne district soldiers who died in WW1. Standing on the eastern bank of the Turanganui River, the monument comprises a carrara marble shaft surmounted by a soldier statue all set on a plinth of marble with superbly carved lions at its base. In 2007, an earthquake dislocated the upper shaft of the cenotaph bearing the soldier statue, from the base of the monument and moved it about 65mm to the north-west, (adding to earlier damage caused by a 1966 seismic event.)

The monument was insured for seismic damage but investigation into the repairs revealed a wider issue of general deterioration of the exterior and some ground movement which had resulted in subsidence around the periphery. Vegetation growth around the structure had also caused staining of the marble. Repairs of the earthquake damage therefore provided an opportunity to consider the condition of the structure as a whole and to undertake a more extensive programme of repair and maintenance to deal with the general effects of time on the Cenotaph.

Salmond Reed had been engaged Since 2004 in investigating, advising and reviewing strategies pertaining to the future of the cenotaph and early in 2013, in collaboration with Architects 44 Ltd of Gisborne and other specialist consultants we were involved in preparing a report to the Gisborne District Council recommending full restoration of the Cenotaph.

Concurrently a Conservation Plan was prepared to guide the process of restoration, to record the present condition of the structure and to combine a large amount of analysis and investigation with what is known about the history of the Cenotaph. This Plan evaluated the cultural heritage value of the Cenotaph and proposed a policy framework for its repair and for dealing with the deferred maintenance issues.

Despite the shortfall between the earthquake damage insurance cover and the cost of a full restoration, the District Council is firmly committed to restoring the Cenotaph in readiness for the 2015 Centennial to commemorate WWI. Fund-raising is in place and an application has been lodged with a Lottery Board Fund set up especially to provide financial resources for this purpose.

As a start to the intended works the statue was recently removed very carefully and placed in temporary storage while further investigation works are undertaken.

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