City Council Support for Louis Armstrong Plaque

Waikato Times columnist Dr Richard Swainson – backed by TOTI – presented the celebration idea with a trumpeted backdrop to win over Hamilton City Councillors in January 2013.

Check out the City Council staff report in committee agenda 14 February 2013 – Item 5 pg 5/47

Here’s an extract:

Founders Theatre has no prior precedent of placing plaques of any sort on site; nor does Council have procedure in place regarding the placement of plaques outside of Hamilton Gardens or Parks. Council from time to time has placed commemorative plaques on assets/buildings and sites but this has been done in an ad hoc manner.
It is the recommendation of staff that a criterion needs to be developed to support any decisions for the placement of plaques i.e. criteria over who gets a plaque as well as hierarchical placement. It is proposed that staff develop a two phase decision making process to assess whether a plaque should be installed to aid staff decisions around commemorative plaques going forward. The two phases are:

– Determining appropriate commemoration;
– Determining appropriate site.

Councillors unanimously voted in favour of memorialising the Armstrong visit. Committee chair Angela O’Leary questioned the need for the development of a ‘plaque installation assessment process’ and ‘criterion’, but the committee ticked that too.

‘Ad Hoc’?

‘Ad hoc’ is Latin and translates as ‘for this’. Yet today the term ‘ad hoc manner’ has come to mean ‘makeshift, inadequately planned or improvised’, rather than the original specific actions such as installing foundation stones and bronze plaques to record history for the future – a most ancient public tradition. But who knows what the council report writer meant?
And even long-term councillors did not challenge the claim that Founders Theatre had no plaque precedent. There are two beautiful white portrait plaques removed from Founders walls a decade ago during the foyer upgrade and now in storage at Waikato Museum. They were installed in 1996 to commemorate two locals who gained stardom on the international stage Oscar Natske (1912 – 1951) and Dame Malvina Major.

“The ‘boys’ and I are so pleased that Oscar is getting a little recognition in his own country
and what better place than the excellent Founders Theatre to hang the plaque.
It will be seen by many and perhaps he’ll be remembered by some.”

(Letter to Mayor Margaret Evans from Winifred Natzka Coburn 7 May 1996)