Wind Grass vs. not a “war memorial”

It’s been the school holidays and I’ve being a bit preoccupied to keep my eye on the news. But it’s been a busy er, month.

It’s been a confusing time on the Town Square front. Other than the public have heard nothing about the Town Square for AGES! There now appears to be bickering about not only where to put sculptures but about what the sculptures actually are.

First was the funding for the Dibble (not a war memorial) sculpture was rejected.

Then there was an article in the Wairarapa Times Age about having something different now the funding had been rejected. It has some wonderful quotes in it…

The metal standards in their static severity are like enlarged shrapnel shards,” Greig said.

“They resemble guns. They suggest phallic dominance, conquering, and – in their remorseless regularity – obedience.

“We need something different in Featherston.”

Which I think is hilarious! I love it actually. But I do have a book at home called “reign on the phallus” which explores the male dominated culture of Ancient Greek. My Classical education comes in handy sometimes at least.

Then somebody suggested that the windgrass sculpture be moved to make way for the Dibble (not a war memorial) sculpture. Which caused quite a stir on Facebook. I even saw a comment from the Wind Grass artist. Which I, of course, cannot find now I come to write this.

And yesterday there is an article on the Wairarapa Times Age about the Council rejecting the idea to move the wind grass sculpture.

So yay for that. I quite like where it is.

I am sure the people pushing for the Dibble “not a war memorial” sculpture are lovely well meaning people. In fact I know, because I’ve met some of them doing other stuff. But let me list the war related places around town.

  1. The War Memorial in what is often called the Heart of Featherston. It’s the biggest in the district. Tall, wide, has it’s own bit of land and a stone fence and iron gates. Just between you and me it looks pretty phallic.
  2. The ANZAC/Kiwi Hall complex. Built by the Americans for the town. It’s scheduled to get a great big lump of greywacky, yes my friends who know about rocks, greywacky rock with flag poles and a plaque or two.
  3. Cherry Tree Park, on the corner of Fitzhertbert and Lyon. I’ve been told they represent the men killed at the POW camp. There is a little gazebo there that is pretty tatty. The trees could do with some care, but it’s not clear who is responsible for them.
  4. The Peace gardens just out of town on the actual site of the POW camp. Quite a large space, several very helpful signs. Very nice place until you think about what happened there.

So we have 3 in town and 1 just out of town. Oh and a war machine museum on Daniell Street.

For me, that’s enough looking back to a bloody and violent past. My maternal grandfather is a survivor of WWII, my paternal grandfather wasn’t allowed to go. Both had their consequences for my family. I don’t like war. I don’t think it’s great. I don’t want my boys growing up thinking it’s how to solve problems.

I think Featherston should keep the past in the past. Yes learn about it. Know what happened and find a way to never go back.

“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it” – Edmund Burke.

We need to step forward together with our youth, with our young families and with the people who have made Featherston their home. We should be building for our future, not looking back at the past.

If any work on the past should be done, perhaps it should be out at the actual site of the Camp. There is history out there that will allow people to see what it was like. The land needs securing and protecting. There is a huge opportunity there for education and history. Look there for the past and leave the living town for the living.

Perhaps we could look after the places of the past that we have before we build new ones.

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