Speech for the reopening of Khartoum Place on behalf of the Waitematā Local Board
10 September 2014
- It’s a pleasure to be here to help celebrate the re-opening and upgrade of what is a special and significant space for Auckland city
- Waitematā Local Board Chair Shale Chambers, your co-host, has stood aside so I can make some very specific acknowledgements today.
- As the Mayor touched on, this is the site of the Woman’s Suffrage Centenary Memorial, which honours the strength and determination of Auckland women who worked towards the goal of women’s suffrage. The memorial is made of over 2000 coloured tiles designed by artists Claudia Pond Eyley and Jan Morrison commissioned for Suffrage Centennial Year in 1993
- We’ve come together here many times to commemorate Suffrage Day Aotearoa New Zealand – coming up next week on 19 September (all invited back) – and International Womens Day. And yes I always have my bike with me – the transport of the suffragists symbolised in the tiles.!
- As many of you may know, during the redesign of this space the Memorial came under attack and was at risk of being moved. Khartoum place was described as a “sordid blot on Auckland’s urban landscape” and the memorial a “makeshift urinal”.
- The suffrage mural was designed for this space and brings an added depth to what Khartoum Place is. I hope you agree the re-design that we are celebrating today has enhanced the Memorial and secured its place in the city centre as a cultural and heritage asset. In fact the upgrade would not look so amazing with out the memorial as the centre piece
- I’d like to acknowledge all those who have fought to retain the Memorial in particular Margaret Wilson, Michelle Wright, Patricia Woodley, Julie Fairey and pro bono lawyers from Ellis Gould Joanna van den Bergen and Julie Goodyear. I also acknowledge the unwavering determination of Cr Cathy Casey supported by the Mayor and political colleagues who secured the memorial (Cathy moved the last amendment at the end of 5 days of Unitary Plan meetings to get support for lifting the proposed draft Unitary Plan designation of “road reserve” from Khartoum Place and replacing it with an “open space” zoning. Women’s Suffrage Memorial in Khartoum Place is identified as “a historic heritage place” in the Unitary Place).
- I think we can now relax that he battle of Khartoum has been won and that the memorial is here to stay.
- The Mayor has thanked the many people involved in the Khartoum place upgrade . As a politician I attend many openings when the politicians are acknowledged but really have done very little but show up for the refreshments. Today is different.
- Today I acknowledge not just those who politically fought for the retention of the Suffrage memorial in Khartoum Place but also those who had the courage and tenacity to forge ahead with the upgrade. The upgrade project was in danger of being delayed or canned about 2 years ago but Shale doggedly pushed it through with the support of the Mayor. He knew that if we lost our nerve we would lose momentum and the upgrade could be in danger of not happening at all (Some of the opposition to the upgrade was very unstandable neighbouring businesses had already experienced a lot of disruption in the area). I think today he has been vindicated and I thank him.
- For too long Auckland has just been ok and our street spaces have not lived up to the majesty of our natural environment or our desire to be taken seriously as an international city. However projects such as this, completed to an exceptionally high standard to last for generations, have allowed us to see our city in a new light and to take pride in our city centre.
- The Waitematā Local Board is committed to continue to play our role in making the inner city a more liveable, vibrant and connected place that welcomes all people of all ages.
- Looking around now at how beautiful Khartoum place looks with the memorial at its heart I think all that is needed is for this space to be named not after an imperial battle that New Zealand actually refused to take part in but in the future I look forward to it being named Suffrage Place or Kate Sheppard Place.
Revamp of Iconic Auckland location complete – Auckland Council media release
Margaret Wilson representing the National Council of Women officially reopened Khartoum Place following the upgrade with the Mayor Len Brown and Waitemata Local Board Chair, Shale Chambers.
Entertainment in the square after the ribbon cutting was provided by a band made up of very talented Council employees. Fine arts students from Auckland University provided portraits (Briony right working on my sketch)