Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust chairman Prof Kevin
Clements on the Anzac Ave site where the group hopes to
build a memorial garden remembering conscientious
objectors. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Plans to build a memorial garden in Dunedin's Anzac Ave
to honour the actions of conscientious objectors have been
greeted with initial consternation by the local RSA.
The RSA says it has no issue with the memorial itself, but is
concerned by its proposed location on a road named to
commemorate World War 1, where rows of elm trees planted in
the 1920s pay tribute to Dunedin's fallen soldiers.
Dunedin city councillors yesterday considered a request from
the Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust to use a triangle of
council land at the corner of Harrow St and Anzac Ave for a
''memorial garden'' honouring those who resisted war,
including Dunedin man Archibald Baxter.
Contacted after the meeting, Dunedin RSA president Jenepher
Glover said it was the first she had heard of the trust's
The RSA would have to discuss it, but her initial reaction
was concern, not about memorialising Mr Baxter, but about the
''The RSA respects all sorts of people. He [Mr Baxter] had a
role to play, he was there and he was involved. I'm not going
to say he doesn't deserve a memorial, just that Anzac Ave
might not be the best place.''
RSA executive committee member and former president Fred
Daniel said it would probably be a matter of ''great
sensitivity'' to some people to have the memorial on Anzac
The plans being made public in such a way felt
confrontational and he felt it would have been better for the
RSA to have been consulted before this stage.
But trust chairman Prof Kevin Clements, director of the
Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of
Otago, said the trust's intention was ''absolutely'' to
discuss its plans with the RSA.
It had considered several sites and felt Anzac Ave would be
fitting in terms of its name and significance to the Baxter
The garden would make the street a place to come and
reflect on all the different ways New Zealanders responded to
the war and the ''tragedy of the whole thing'', he said.
The design was only a concept at this stage, but included
The trust planned to make bids to the World War 1
commemoration committee and the Lottery Grants Board for
funds available for World War 1 commemorative projects, it
said in its letter to the council.
While councillors indicated general support for the project
in discussion, they refrained from making any commitment at
Instead, they asked that more work be done with the trust to
develop the proposal and a draft agreement relating to the
memorial garden's costs design and ongoing maintenance etc.
Those would then be considered by the council.
At the suggestion of Cr John Bezett, who expressed concern
the trust was coming at the project ''sideways'' by
approaching the council first, a specific request the trust
consult with the RSA and other interested parties was added.
It was important the RSA was consulted before the council
agreed to anything, he said.
''It's got to be a tentative approach at this stage. If it
looks too much like a deal has been done, we will find we
have people who are quite aggrieved by it.''
After staff raised a few concerns, Cr David Benson-Pope
warned of the potential for the council to ''overcook
things'' and put up barriers to projects.
''I think [the project] is very exciting. It is simply an
approach by a distinguished group of people who want to
recognise a famous Dunedin man and make a contribution to the
city, and I think one that will be welcomed by most Dunedin
people and most New Zealanders.''