Restoring the Gisborne Cenotaph which was damaged in a 2007 earthquake. The monument is our region’s main First World War monument and the focal point of our Anzac day celebration.
Built on the western bank of the Turanganui River, the Cenotaph was unveiled on 25 April 1923 in honour of the district’s servicemen who fell during the First World War.
The Cenotaph suffered significant structural damage in the earthquake measuring magnitude 6.8 which struck Gisborne at 8.55pm on 20 December 2007 and has left it extremely vulnerable to further seismic activity. Should this occur it could lead to total collapse of the monument or significant un-repairable damage.
As a monument the Cenotaph is nationally significant as an outstanding example of its genre. Its Historic Places Trust category 1 registration being the reference to this. The most notable features of the monument are its construction from Carrara marble, the finely carved reclining lions which flank the corners of the base and the statue of the soldier in reversed arms stance atop the monument. Its position on the confluence of three rivers makes it a visually striking and prominent part of the townscape.
The decision to restore the Cenotaph is the outcome of extensive investigations carried out by Council Insurers (Civic), conservation architects and structural engineers who have considered various options for the Cenotaph (repair, restore or reconstruct).
These investigations concluded that a restoration of the monument and upgrade of the foundations to protect against seismic activity was the best option for its long-term future.
The restoration of the monument will utilise techniques and materials contemporary with the monument. The foundations and core will be strengthened. Specialist restoration, repair and re-polishing will be carried out to the marble. Finally the fully restored 3m marble statue of the soldier will be returned to its place atop the monument.
The Cenotaph is a marker both to the part that the Gisborne region has played in the heritage of our country and to the loss we have experienced as a result. The restoration of the Gisborne Cenotaph will ensure that it continues to serve as a fitting tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice during conflict and as a place from where we, as a community, can remember them.