National War Memorial Park, Wellington

When the National War Memorial was first built in 1932 it was highly visible from most areas of the capital. At that time there was a proposal to create a boulevard to link the memorial to Courtenay Place. This never eventuated and, while still highly visible, the memorial has become isolated in a semi-industrial zone as the city has grown up around it.

In 2005, the Crown acquired land on behalf of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage on Buckle Street, to create a New Zealand Memorial Park across the road from the National War Memorial. This park was to join the adjacent National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior as a major focal point for New Zealanders to commemorate sacrifice during time of war.

Project planning for the Paterson-Tory St Bridge has proceeded on the basis that Buckle Street could be placed in an underpass should funding become available to do so. This means that the Buckle Street Underpass at Memorial Park fully integrates with plans to construct a bridge around the Basin Reserve.

On 7 August 2012, the Government announced the National War Memorial Park, including putting Buckle Street underground to remove the traffic that currently separates Memorial Park from the National War Memorial. This will create a new, unified National Memorial precinct. Development of the Park is a key part of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, and the completed New Zealand Memorial Park will be in place by ANZAC Day 2015.

This will improve the setting of the National War Memorial and strengthen the heritage value of the entire area. It will also heighten visitors’ experience of the National War Memorial and improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and the schoolchildren who currently cross Buckle Street at grade.

The Memorial Park Alliance was made up of the following companies HEB, Downer, Tonkin & Taylor, URS and NZTA. Trial anchors were installed early January and a variety of anchor types were installed and tested. The anchor types included Williams bar (drilled and grouted), Williams Geo-Drill (self drilling) Sting Ray (mechanical, tipping-plate anchors) and Screw Piles (as anchors).

The Sting Ray anchors performed well through testing but due to an increase of design loads (from 300kN to 600kN) increased the Sting Rays fell short on yield strength (360kN). The screw piles had a torque setting that assumed the load was achievable, but the cost and logistics of installing screw piles horizontally also ruled them out of the picture.

The ground conditions varied onsite, with a mix of collapsing alluvium soils at each end of the site and a very weak, highly weathered Greywacke layer found in the middle of the site. The designers opted for a mix of Williams Geo-Drill self drilling anchors through the collapsing ground and Williams 150KSI high grade bar anchors though the weathered Greywacke section.

Production anchors commenced early June, with a total of 5 forty foot containers of anchor tendons imported from USA to complete the project. Working closely with the Memorial Park Alliance the anchor installation progressed as quickly as planned, with over 550 anchors installed to date. Further demands were placed on construction, with a sudden series of large earthquakes rocked in the Capitol City. Luckily there was no injuries and only minimal damage to report (backfill had fallen out of the wall in a couple of sections). This was quickly reinstated, and it was business as usual in the trench on Buckle St!

The following month, several more earthquakes were felt with two measuring over magnitude 6 just several minutes apart. We were actually testing anchors through the first shake and extension measurements fluctuated +/- 0.7mm during the shake. After each earthquake a site inspection was carried out to ensure the safety of our team and workplace, and again we were lucky to report no injuries with some minor backfill cave-in the extent of any damage.

There was something with this project, it may have been because we were helping build something special, not only for Wellington but for New Zealand to remember the importance of our War heroes that fought for our freedom and lost their lives fighting. I’m not 100% sure on what it was, but no matter how hard it rained, how hard the sun shone, or how difficult the conditions onsite became, everyone was always cheerful and working hard. We were very happy with our lads who put in a huge effort in tough muddy conditions to get the job done, and we were highly impressed with the way the project was managed by the Memorial Park Alliance team. Well done everyone!