Clutha Community Hub, now named Te Pou o Mata-Au — The Clutha District Memorial and Community Centre, is on track for completion about July 8, with its war memorial wing continuing as a work in progress.
‘‘The memorial has always been key, but completion of the building itself is naturally a preceding consideration,’’ Clutha Community Hub Charitable Trust chairman Dale Anderson said.
‘‘It’s been a challenge during Covid and price increases but the budget is tracking on target, plus we were able to gain 500sq m more floorspace.’’
The centre is expected to be up and running with seven tenancies from July. There will be an official public opening in August.
Organisers negotiating the centre’s war memorial admitted there had been frustrations, and earlier plans and proposals had still not been confirmed, but agreed the importance of the work warranted patience.
Plans for an outdoor wall and garden of remembrance are paused while the focus of the indoor wing has shifted.
‘‘Original ideas were for the indoor memorial to honour service people closest to Balclutha, and the wider district comprehensively included in the outdoor monument, but the project is paid for by the whole district,’’ Mr Anderson said. They now intended to honour people from the wider district in the indoor memorial.
The original foundation stone from the Balclutha War Memorial Hall will be laid in the entrance to the indoor space as a reminder of the purpose of the original hall.
Retired Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Baff has been carrying out research for the district memorial since November 2020 to compile a list of names. ‘‘It started with about 3000 names from existing lists but our focus is beyond those who gave their lives to all those who sacrificed home and family to go into danger when they became service people,’’ he said.
Access to official records and touring memorial sites around the district expanded the list to 5618 names, but Lt Col Baff expects research to reduce it to 4000-4500.
‘‘Every individual has a paper trail — sometimes dozens of documents — and each has to be checked.
‘‘The word ‘Clinton’ might get hits in individual searches but after sifting through the records for a local connection it turns out they just had a next of kin living in Clinton Tce in Wellington, say.
‘‘It takes time to correct errors we find and not add any of our own and this time round (working through honour roll surnames) I’m into the Cs.’’
He also explained considerations such as layout and engraving style for ease of use to visitors.
The centre’s long-term war memorial goals are ambitious, combining traditional, permanent monumentation with new media access to national and potentially international databases for a kind of global war record and ongoing memorial.
Stakeholders were in agreement memorial efforts deserved respect and patience to be accurately collected and presented, and said they looked forward to the project being prioritised when main construction was finished — and hopefully a completed project for Anzac Day next year.