Memorial protest disgusts minister

NZ Newswire Updated May 2, 2012, 5:04 pm

Protesters who draped a banner on Wellington's National War Memorial carillon should be ashamed of themselves, the government says.

The banner saying "no asset sales" was put up on scaffolding covering the carillon on Wednesday morning by opponents of the proposed partial sale of four state-owned power companies.

Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson says he's disgusted.

"The National War Memorial commemorates all those soldiers who died protecting our freedom," he said.

"To see it defiled for political reasons is offensive to the whole community no matter what an individual's political beliefs."

Steps are being taken to make sure it doesn't happen again, Mr Finlayson says.

A spokesman for the protesters said the memorial was chosen to emphasise that generations of New Zealanders fought "to make New Zealand what it is today".

Several thousand people marched in Auckland last week to protest the plan to partially privatise Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy and coal miner Solid Energy.

The government intends selling 49 per cent of the shares in them.

Parliament's finance and expenditure select committee is hearing submissions on the legislation needed for the share floats.

The National War Memorial features the carillon, a Hall of Memories and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

Towering over 50 metres tall, the carillon has been prominent in Wellington's skyline since the 1932 Anzac Day dedication ceremony.

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