Foun­tain: Save or de­mol­ish?

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - MIKE BAIN

The pub­lic will de­cide the fate of a well-known water fea­ture out­side Mata­mata’s soon-to-be re­de­vel­oped civic cen­tre.

The fea­ture was gifted to the com­mu­nity by Peter (Pete) Ge­orge Petersen and was un­veiled by the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Sir Paul Reeves in 1988.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil de­cided it would be re­moved and a plaque for Petersen dis­played when the new Mata­mataPi­ako Civic and Me­mo­rial Cen­tre was con­structed in Tainui St.

The coun­cil was told by staff it had the bless­ing of Petersen’s de­scen­dants to go ahead but the fam­ily has made a court in­junc­tion to pre­vent it from be­ing re­moved.

The fam­ily in­stead want the coun­cil to con­sult with the com­mu­nity to see if peo­ple would like it to re­main, be­fore a de­ci­sion was made to pull the plug on the water fea­ture.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Mayor Jan Barnes has apol­o­gised for what ap­pears to be a com­mu­ni­ca­tions er­ror be­tween the coun­cil and the fam­ily.

‘‘Be­ing a res­i­dent of Mata­mata my­self, I should have dug a bit deeper my­self and I apol­o­gise.’’

Sgt ‘‘Pete’’ Petersen was an air force wire­less op­er­a­tor in World War II who was dec­o­rated for res­cu­ing his crew­men after their plane crashed dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise.

As a part of his be­quest, Petersen also left a size­able cash do­na­tion to be used for the up keep of the water fea­ture.

But it’s not op­er­at­ing at the mo­ment be­cause a pump on it needs to be re­paired or re­placed.

It’s un­der­stood a rel­a­tive in Aus­tralia was ini­tially con­tacted but Petersen’s first-cousin Avelda Swyney said there were five fam­ily mem­bers still liv­ing in the district.

One rel­a­tive in Mata­mata, who ‘‘caught wind’’ of the pro­posal had tried to con­tact the coun­cil about the mat­ter in De­cem­ber, she said.

An­other rel­a­tive Steve Petersen said his un­cle gave the gift to the town and the town should now be asked whether they want to re­tain it or not.

‘‘The coun­cil has al­lowed the water fea­ture to run down to the state it is cur­rently. The fam­ily’s view is, if the peo­ple of the town want it gone, then the fam­ily is happy with that. Un­cle Pete would have been happy with that.

‘‘But let it go to the peo­ple, it was given to them, let them have a voice.’’

De­spite no record in the coun­cil’s min­utes, it claims to have dis­cussed re­plac­ing the foun­tain with a meet­ing room named after Peter Petersen and a plaque next to the roll of hon­our in the new civic cen­tre.

Coun­cil has other op­tions but wanted the fam­ily to have in­put rather than present them with a so­lu­tion.

Barnes is adamant the pub­lic can have its say.

‘‘Coun­cil needs to bal­ance and say what is best for the ratepayer as well. Mr Petersen has a mem­ory we want to re­fresh,’’ she said.

No al­ter­na­tive sites were sought to re­lo­cate the fea­ture and ‘‘to re­tain it would cost the ratepayer an es­ti­mated $50,000 or $250,000 to re­place it’’, Barnes said.

The cost of re­moval and pave­ment re­in­state­ment is es­ti­mated at $30,000. Re­plac­ing a pump could be as high as $24,000, plus yearly maintenance of $4500.

No date has been set for the end of con­sul­ta­tion.

The fam­ily has had three of­fers from the pub­lic to pay for re­plac­ing the faulty pumps.

Left and be­low: The water foun­tain fea­ture out­side the me­mo­rial cen­tre on Tainui St. Be­low left: The me­mo­rial plaque for the foun­tain was un­veiled by the then Gov­er­nor Gen­eral, Sir Paul Reeves in 1988. Bot­tom: A pic­ture of the foun­tain not long after its con­struc­tion.

Mata­mataPi­ako Mayor Jan Barnes wants the com­mu­nity to have a say over the fu­ture of the water foun­tain.

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