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Council listens to mural families

THE mural on the wall of the soon-to-be-demolished Gisborne District Council building has had a stay of execution after a desperate plea from Martin Kibble, the son of original Gisborne town crier John Kibble.

The council yesterday decided to let a staff recommendation for the mural to be demolished “lie on the table” until more information is obtained, after chief executive Judy Campbell told them it would be months before the building was demolished.

The staff recommendation had been made after a report confirmed the presence of asbestos in the boards on which the mural was painted.

Mr Kibble was speaking to the council on behalf of the families of his father John and their close friend John Dwight, who are both portrayed on the mural painted by late artist Graeme Mudge.

Obviously moved by the occasion, he said the subject was close to the Kibble and Dwight families. The information about the asbestos had come from a third party and not a council representative, as it should have, and the families had taken desperate action in the past 24 hours to bring information to the council.

He had been told by experts that just because there was asbestos present did not mean it had to be destroyed. It had great meaning to the two families and the people of Gisborne. To destroy it would be devastating.

The families had engaged the services of an independent expert at no cost to the council. They had not been privy to information in the report before the council and only gained the information after the intervention of a councillor on their behalf.

The executive summary in the asbestos management survey prepared for the council by Dowdell and Associates contradicted the recommendation to demolish the mural.

It said the mural could be removed and transported safely but advice should be sought from a licensed asbestos removal contractor with specific knowledge of preservation techniques.

“We are asking today for your empathy and that the councillors delay your decisions to destroy this beautiful mural so that we can have time to table a further report,” he said.

He was supported in a letter from Stuart Dwight, who asked the council to honour the people in the mural by doing the right thing and reinstating it appropriately.

Mrs Campbell said there was no particular urgency. The staff recommendation did not suggest they were going out tomorrow to demolish the mural. It would not be until the building came down and that was not due for several months yet.

Brian Wilson said there could be options to preserve the mural and the public should be consulted. It would be silly to make a decision now without the public involved. A motion to have the item lie on the table until the next council meeting was carried.

Click on the picture to explore our interactive map of Gisborne's unique Mudge murals.