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Christchurch City Scene
November 2002

Lead Stories

Leaky home moves

A celebration of Aranui

Reflections on peace

Sculpting new Gallery's skin

Wastewater plant 40


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Reflections on peace

Reflections on peace

During the World Firefighters Games I asked how come no small children say they want to be a politician when they grow up but virtually all want to be firefighters. It was a way of pointing out just how highly firefighters rate in public esteem and children's ambitions.

We also got to mark that esteem in a more permanent and fitting fashion with the opening during the games of the new Firefighters Reserve opposite the fire station.

The reserve idea was suggested by us before the tragic events of last September but has ended up using steel from the fallen Twin Towers as part of the reserve's central sculpture. It has already proven a huge drawcard with the public and provides us all with a lasting reminder of the hefty price we must all pay when people stop talking and dogma takes over.

The story of how we ended up with the steel is a very Christchurch tale of strong ideas, cooperative action and formality mingling with informality.

Council staffers Marlene Le Cren and Melissa Slater have been very involved in the Firefighters Reserve idea from the start. When the idea came up of possibly using steel from the ruins of the World Trade Centre I supplied the formality by helping write to the Mayor of New York. When that got the go ahead it was Marlene who used family contacts in New York to liase with the site staff involved in clearing the debris from the site.

Graham Bennett was asked to come up with an idea for the sculpture. When he did, it was so compelling that there was little left but to ask him to go ahead with his work on what is a masterpiece of dignified design.

I then approached the Rev Maurice Gray to ask him to take part in the opening and blessing of the reserve. Maurice agreed and together we went to the Muslim temple and asked the Muslim community to appoint a community head to also take part in the opening.

The Maori community also contributed to the reserve by suggesting that all the shavings and trimmings from the steel be planted under three cabbage trees that are part of the reserve.

Itís all meant we now have new life forming on a monument to a site where so much life was lost. We have also managed, by listening to those who support the idea of Christchurch as a city of peace, to make sure the reserve sculpture salutes the courage of firefighters everywhere.

As I said at the opening, this site both salutes the heroes of the New York terror attacks and also the courage of the unknown Afghani firefighters who may well have lost their lives in the ensuing bombing of their land.

It is to salute the courage and strength of character that brings out the best of human nature in the worst of times. The reserve is a lasting reminder of what can happen when the talking and listening stops. Hopefully it will prove to be a place to reflect on peace.

The New York firefighters present during the opening and the games told me that they had been overjoyed by the welcome, friendship and kindness shown them by the people of Christchurch while they were here. They asked me to thank you all for their positive experience in a city they will remember fondly as one of peace.

Young volunteers

Volunteering Canterbury, in association with Te Runaka ki Otautahi o Kai Tahu, is staging a Youth Volunteer Awards function on International Volunteer Day, Thursday 5 December at 7.30pm in the Christchurch Netball Centre.The Awards will be presented by Mayor Garry Moore and there will be entertainment by young volunteers. Admission is free. Please RSVP to Volunteering Canterbury on 366 2442.

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