Berlin Wall again causes divide - this time in Christchurch

By Thomas Mead

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Two large pieces of the historic wall are proving contentious as the city decides where to put them. Source: 1 NEWS

A dispute is brewing in Christchurch over where to display two large pieces of the Berlin Wall that were gifted to the city in 2016.

The pieces, dubbed simply ‘Section 88’ and ‘Section 143’, were donated by a German company and have since been transformed into giant pieces of art.

They once formed part of the wall that ran through the middle of Berlin, dividing East and West Germany at the height the USSR's brutal reign across parts of Europe.

Now the same wall has ended up out the back of a Christchurch storage unit.

The pieces have been sitting, waiting for several months while the Christchurch City Council decides where to display them.

Victoria Square is the location preferred by council staff, who say it’s in keeping with the brutalist architecture nearby. But that’s frustrated members of a local citizen’s lobby group set up to protect the park.

One of their members, landscape architect Grant Edge, believes the wall would be too harsh in what is supposed to be a quiet place of reflection.

“It's a passive place, it's a place for people to just relax," he says. "The wall is a bit of a tension thing."

Both pieces feature artwork, including a depiction of the Tardis from hit TV show Dr Who and a panel painted by students from Berlin school for students with learning disabilities.

The Christchurch City Council is yet to make a decision, but some councillors have already indicated they are unhappy with the wall being displayed in Victoria Square.

Councillor Tim Scandrett described the art as “two large pieces of brutality” and said they should not be installed in the square, while Councillor Glenn Livingstone was on the fence and suggested other places could be more appropriate.

The public library in the city has also been touted as an option, as well as the University of Canterbury and other sites around the city.

The council is yet to announce when the final decision will be made, meaning that 50 years after it first went up, the need for a Berlin Wall is still being debated.