Petersen foun­tain re­moved

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - REXINE HAWES

Next year the new Mata­mataPi­ako Civic and Me­mo­rial Cen­tre will open, with­out a water fea­ture.

Af­ter lengthy con­sul­ta­tion Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil and the Petersen fam­ily have come to an agree­ment to re­move the water fea­ture, be­queathed to the com­mu­nity by Peter (Pete) Ge­orge Petersen, who served dur­ing World War II.

Work­ers moved in to re­move the foun­tain on Tues­day morn­ing.

Peter Petersen’s mem­ory and his gift to Mata­mata will be com­mem­o­rated with a room named af­ter him in the new cen­tre, as well as a plaque.

Ear­lier this year coun­cil came un­der fire af­ter it was dis­cov­ered it had not con­sulted with the Petersen fam­ily be­fore mak­ing the de­ci­sion to re­move the foun­tain.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Mayor Jan Barnes said there was a com­mu­ni­ca­tion er­ror be­tween the Petersen fam­ily and the coun­cil.

She said there was never any in­ten­tion to of­fend Peter Petersen’s mem­ory.

Fol­low­ing com­mu­nity feed­back, ear­lier this year, the coun­cil de­cided to re­view the re­moval of the foun­tain, and had an in­de­pen­dent re­port com­pleted on the foun­tain.

The re­port re­vealed that it would re­quire sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing to re­pair, as well as ad­di­tional fund­ing each year to main­tain.

Fol­low­ing this re­port fur­ther dis­cus­sions were held with the Petersen fam­ily and with the fam­ily’s agree­ment the coun­cil con­firmed the foun­tain would be re­moved.

The fam­ily also re­leased a state­ment which con­firmed their agree­ment with the coun­cil.

Barnes said she un­der­stood it was a sen­si­tive mat­ter for rel­a­tives of Peter Petersen, who be­queathed the water fea­ture to the peo­ple of Mata­mata.

‘‘The Petersen fam­ily vented their frus­tra­tion, and we lis­tened. Then we waited till they came back to us in Au­gust.

‘‘We needed to progress it, be­cause we have a build un­der way. We were pa­tient. We are very grate­ful that the fam­ily were will­ing to work with us.’’

Barnes said she was pleased the fam­ily un­der­stood the coun­cil’s po­si­tion.

‘‘It was built for the day and grate­fully ac­cepted as a gift, but you have to look at what’s best for the fu­ture.’’

Barnes ad­mit­ted the coun­cil ‘‘could have done it bet­ter’’, but pro­tect­ing ratepay­ers was the pri­or­ity.

‘‘There was never any in­ten­tion to of­fend any­one, Mr Petersen’s mem­ory, or the fam­ily.

‘‘We are now look­ing for­ward to com­plet­ing this project and pro­vid­ing a li­brary, meet­ing space and of­fice fa­cil­ity that meets the chang­ing needs of our com­mu­nity.’’

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