The fans in New Zealand don't have to travel to Memphis anymore. They have their own Elvis Memorial since January 8, 2000. We wanted to know more about it and asked the Memories of Elvis Fanclub for more information. They promptly reacted with a very nice article for our magazine.
Unveiling a Memorial to Elvis Presley in New Zealand.
by Susan Brennan-Hodgson
Quietly, almost unobtrusively, amidst the rush, the bustle, the tinsel, the frantic Christmas fever, a remarkable event took place in a quiet park in New Zealand!
A beautiful tribute to Elvis was finally completed and delivered. After months of negotiation and some opposition from one or two city councilors, the unveiling of a permanent Memorial to Elvis, in Waitakere City, New Zealand, has taken place.
This is the realization of a dream for the Memories of Elvis Fan Club members, some of whom will never be able to travel the long distance to Memphis and Graceland. Our vision was to have a focus where fans could come to express their love and respect for the King, or to gather on special occasions and anniversaries.
The project was made possible much sooner than expected by a generous donation from foundation Club and committee member, Eve Adams, but nevertheless proved to be a challenging two year task, involving mountains of paperwork and many frustrations.
First we had to find a creative and innovative design which would be aesthetically in harmony with it's surroundings, and which also reflected with dignity, the talent, achievements and charisma of Elvis Presley - a celebration of his life. Then we had to find a suitable site in a park or reserve, befitting the quality and splendour of the Memorial.
We feel we have achieved all this. The Memorial is nearly 6 feet high, and is made in three sections, of beautiful polished granite. A white silhouette of Elvis (from Jailhouse Rock), is set against the background of a blue guitar. A bronze/gold record is set into the guitar to acknowledge Elvis' contribution to the music/recording industry.
The base of the Memorial has been designed to represent a stage, on which Elvis appears to be dancing.
We considered the inscription very carefully, and decided Elvis' own words when he accepted an award from the US Jaycees in 1971 naming him one of Americas ten most outstanding young men, would be the most meaningful and appropriate.
We have also included Elvis' most recent worldwide award - "Entertainer of the Century"
The Memorial is sited by courtesy of the Waitakere City Council, in Cranwell Park, a small, picturesque grassed park with a back drop of graceful shade trees, the perfect spot for Elvis gatherings!
The unveiling ceremony took place appropriately on Elvis' 65th birthday, January 8, 2000, and was attended by 300 - 400 Elvis fans from far and near, including news media and television reporters.
We started with a 45 minute emotional ceremony, which included an introduction by Club President, Glenys Moore, then Henderson Community Board member Maxine Green JP, unveiled the Memorial, assisted by Eve Adams.
Rev. Judy Cooper (chaplain to National Women's Hospital and Greenlane Hospital), performed the blessing, followed by Club secretary, Susan Brennan-Hodgson who read the inscription.
Ginny Peters then introduced an original tribute song to Elvis, written by herself and Cliffie Stone.
During the ceremony we played Elvis singing "How Great Thou Art" and our Club song "Memories"
Andy Stankovich, our star Elvis entertainer for the afternoon, arrived in spectacular style in a bright red,1963, soft top, Roadster Corvette, and was introduced in traditional style by Mike Davis (as the Colonel).
Andy, looking very smooth in his white jump suit, charmed us with his Elvis sounding voice, and we danced and celebrated in true Elvis form. The air was filled with laughter and the sound of happy children enjoying themselves.
Another attraction was the array of classic cars and hot rods, most in mint condition and coveted by all of us. Representatives from the Rock'n roll clubs added to the thrill of the day.
There were many, many highlights, such as the cutting of the special Elvis birthday and Memorial cake, the impromptu visit of Mayor Bob Harvey and Mrs Harvey, and a totally unexpected donation of $40 to our Club, by Mr Whippy the icecream man who turned out to be an Elvis fan too - well who isn't!!!!
As we reluctently packed up our picnic gear, umbrellas, untied the balloons, dismantled the gazebos and the marquee, the last rays of the warm afternoon sun were caressing our fabulous Elvis Memorial, highlighting the glistening surface, burnishing the gold record, and picking out the figure of Elvis in sharp relief.
Bouquets of fresh flowers placed at Elvis feet, glowed in a rainbow of colours. We left, confident that this would be the first of many such occasions.
ELVIS - we salute you!