It’s official – Robinson Park in Masterton now has its own angel.
Elaine Hurndell’s larger-than-life statue ‘Grace’ has been given the green light to return by Masterton District Council (MDC).
It will be placed permanently in the public park, which sits adjacent to Farriers Bar and Eatery, between northern Queen St and Chapel St.
Ms Hurndell, an eccentric Masterton hairdresser and headstone-maker, spent $15,000 creating Grace in an effort to raise awareness about suicide and bullying.
In a passionate presentation to councillors at yesterday’s meeting, she vowed to be responsible for the statue’s maintenance and upkeep “until the day I die”.
“I’ve got the molds – if someone breaks her damn arm off, I will stick it back on.”
Brent Goodwin was the sole councillor to go against officers’ recommendations that the council accept the gift of the statue and agree to have it placed in Robinson Park.
Mr Goodwin said he did not see “any artistic merit in the statue” and did not think it was “appropriate” for it to be placed in a public space.
However, councillor Deborah Davidson did not miss a beat to raise her hand and move that MDC support the recommendation, which was seconded by Councillor Bex Johnson.
Councillor Gary Caffell said the “peaceful” Churchill Park in Solway was a better venue for Grace, but Jonathan Hooker disputed this saying the statue would “stick out like a sore thumb” there.
Mr Hooker said the privacy that Robinson Park offered made it an ideal spot.
Deputy Mayor Graham McClymont remained quiet throughout the discussion, despite him being responsible for Grace’s surprise month-long appearance at the park earlier this year, a move which was not run past the council.
Ms Hurndell said following the trial period, it was evident the town was “really hurting”.
Grace was a place where people could lean on, and support, each other, she said.
“We have forgotten how to do that.
“These are kids that are being bullied — they feel like they’re on their own.
“What’s mum going to do about it?
“She can take that child by the hand and lead them down to Grace.”
While Masterton was officially the “Most Beautiful City” in New Zealand, Wairarapa had one of the highest suicide rates, she said.
“Grace stands for peace, honesty and love.”
“Let’s teach those skills [to our young people] so instead of feeling like losers they feel like creators.”
Ms Hurndell said working parents after a bad day could visit the statue to de-stress and regroup so they arrived home in a positive frame of mind.
Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said she visited Grace on Christmas Eve.
“The people that were there really appreciated being able to sit and talk and light a candle — it was quite a moving experience.”
Te Awhina Community House co-ordinatior Donna Gray also spoke at the meeting, telling councillors she loved what Grace stood for.
“I believe this is what our town really needs.”
Educator Pania Smith said in her submission that Grace was the inspiration behind a book she was writing for young ones, which would offer strategies to enable them to cope with bullying.