Members of the community who rallied behind the cause to bring back Cambridge’s iconic Homecoming Cross were rapt to see a new cross returned to the original spot over Te Kō Utu Lake last week.
The old cross, which stood at the northern entrance to Cambridge since the 1960s, was taken down in 2017 after Waipa District Council deemed it was a health and safety problem, amidst construction of the new $3.1 million roundabout in the area.
But members of the community, including the Cambridge Ministers Association and the Cambridge Community Board, called for its reinstatement, arguing that it was more than just a religious symbol, but a heritage symbol too, and could be replaced without the need for a new resource consent under council’s existing user rights.
The Cambridge Ministers’ Association stepped up and took responsibility, agreeing with council to maintain the new Homecoming Cross in the future, and fundraised to cover the cost of the designing and building it.
Lengthy delays and red tape followed amidst confusion over resource consent, and eventually council’s community facilities manager Bruce Airey stepped in and informed the regulatory department that the cross didn’t need consent as it came under the existing user rights. And so the build was finally given the sign off, and the Cambridge Ministers Association received an apology over the misunderstanding.
On Tuesday this week the new Homecoming Cross was erected at the original location of the old cross, now welcoming travellers into Cambridge. It will light up each night when the street lights turn on and should be fully operational by early next week.
Cambridge Ministers Association spokesman Pastor Murray Smith said it was good to see the cross go up after nearly a year of delays. “It’s great that it didn’t just disappear,” he said. “It looks amazing.
“Many see it as a heritage symbol as well as religious, whether they’re connected to a church or not.
“I’m happy that we’ve got it back with all it represents, gleaming over our township.”