$150K a drop in the bucket

Sir Don McKinnon said the museum at Le Quesnoy in France is definitely going ahead, with a $150,000 contribution from Waipa ratepayers helping to fund it.

Waipa District Council has pledged $150,000 to a war memorial museum in Le Quesnoy, France, our part of the $15M organisers need to make it a reality.

The Right Honourable Sir Don McKinnon, chair of the New Zealand War Memorial Trust – Le Quesnoy, said the project is one of national significance and will be New Zealand’s first permanent war memorial museum on the Western Front.  “In order to realise this vision and successfully complete this project, we will be calling on financial support from any New Zealander who has a connection or interest in WW1 or 2, including every local authority across New Zealand,” he said.

So far, both the Hauraki and the Thames-Coromandel District Councils have refused the request for funding the facility in France, which has already raised just under $3M in pledges in New Zealand.

For their part, Sir Don said the French government has effectively subsidised the purchase by offering the land and buildings for to the trust for 50 per cent of the market valuation. “This was the turning point in a financial sense for the project to materialise,” he explained.

There is no deadline for the fundraising, either, so if it is not reached then the project will just take longer to complete. “We will be working in stages, dependant on how much money has been raised,” Sir Don said.  While central government is supportive of the plans – with the Ministries of Culture and Heritage, Foreign Affairs, Defence, along with Treasury and the IRD in discussions around rebates on donations – they are not opening their chequebook to fund the museum.

“We’ve no plan at this stage to ask central government for direct financial support,” Sir Don said.

Waipa’s $150,000 contribution to the museum Le Quesnoy, Cambridge’s sister city in France, was not included in the public consultation of council’s 10-Year Plan document, which finished in late April.

Council said the funding will be contingent upon fundraising targets being met and the project being confirmed and approved by French authorities.

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