MAYOR: Honouring the past takes many different forms

Published: 16 November 2023

Memorial projects have been on my mind this week, since laying a wreath at the RSA on Saturday as part of Armistice Day commemorations.

The 11th of November is marked each year as the day the fighting stopped in World War One and we remember whose who lost their lives during the hostilities – the war affected nearly every family in our district at the time and although the generation which lived through that war is no longer with us, their legacy lives on in the memories of their children, and following generations.

In Baring Square West I have watched with interest the relocation of the Boer War Memorial; it once sat in Baring Square East but was moved last month, first offsite for cleaning and restoration, and then for reassembly.

It now sits on a new concrete base, looking quite at home alongside the other war memorials opposite council’s administration building. All that remains to be done in terms of physical work is for a footpath to be built around it.

Moving memorials is a sensitive thing and we have worked with the local RSA, heritage experts and the New Zealand Defence Force on the Boer War Memorial project. We are still thinking about the best way to rededicate the memorial once all the work is finished.

A living memorial was also on my agenda this week, when I attended a regular biodiversity meeting that includes people from Council, Ecan, DOC, Forest and Bird and other groups working hard for the environment.

The group wants Council to investigate making the eastern end of Plantation Road, a paper road between Maronan Road and Ferrimans Road, an insurance site – a site that would be a backup to the Harris Scientific Reserve and conserve indigenous plants that once covered the whole of the plains but are now rare.

The Harris reserve is a dryland area vulnerable to drought and fire, and Plantation Road would be an insurance site in case of disaster.  A survey of Plantation Road in 2012 recorded 10 indigenous species already there, including clematis marata, matagouri and native broom – you might not think these are special, but they are fast disappearing remnants of our past.

The group’s recommendation will come to Council in the future and councillors will make a decision on it.

It’s been good to see residents engaging with staff during consultation on our draft Biodiversity strategy. There were lots of good discussions had at the Ashburton A&P Show and last Saturday at the local farmers’ market.

The strategy is all about protecting and enhancing our natural environment and the strategy document sets out where we are at the moment and action plans for the future. Some of these actions are because of new laws, but others feel right for our district and are Council’s wishes.

Feedback on the strategy closes on 26 November, so head to and have your say.

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