Monday, August 22, 2016
The New Zealand Institute of Architects is dismayed by the decision of Department of Conservation Deputy Director-General Mervyn English to demolish the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre, and urges the Department to reconsider this decision urgently.
Aniwaniwa is a Heritage New Zealand Category One Historic Place located at Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera. The building was designed by the late John Scott, a pioneering Māori architect and an outstanding figure in twentieth century New Zealand architecture.
“John Scott’s architecture was original, and his importance to New Zealand architecture is increasingly recognised,” said Institute of Architects President Christina van Bohemen. “The Institute awarded John its first Gold Medal for career achievement in 1999 and just last year named its award for public architecture in his honour.”
Ms van Bohemen said the 1976 Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre is one of John Scott’s most significant works. Scott also designed Wellington’s acclaimed Futuna Chapel, which was itself threatened with demolition before its reprieve and subsequent restoration.
“Aniwaniwa is a unique building designed by a unique architect for a unique place,” said Ms van Bohemen. “It strongly expresses some of the defining characteristics of John Scott’s architecture: concern for the land, a sensitive approach to site, and an innovative fusion of modern architecture and Māori building and design traditions.”
“The Department of Conservation proclaims on its website its commitment to New Zealand’s unique legacy and enjoins us to pass it on. So why is Mr English determined to demolish a building that Heritage New Zealand has found to be of outstanding significance?”
“Why is a public servant in a government department ordering the destruction of a building that a Crown entity values so highly? What sort of example does that set for the community and for owners of heritage buildings?"
Ms van Bohemen said the demolition decision is especially regrettable because the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre was commissioned by the Department of Conservation itself.
“The Department is walking away from one of its own buildings, commissioned on behalf of the New Zealand public and paid for by the New Zealand public.”
Ms van Bohemen said Mr English has supported his decision by citing the poor condition of the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre.
“This is an ignominious position. Mr English is effectively using his department’s failure to properly maintain Aniwaniwa as justification for the building’s destruction.”
“Why has the building been neglected?” Ms van Bohemen asked. “Government departments are required to ensure that places of heritage value in active use are managed in such a way that the heritage values are maintained, and that the fabric of such places is not allowed to deteriorate while decisions about future use are made.”
Ms van Bohemen said despite the lack of care shown to the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre the building is reparable.
“If there is a will, there are ways to restore Aniwaniwa and find a use for it,” Ms van Bohemen said. “The Department of Conservation’s opinion of the building’s condition and estimates of the cost of remedial work have been subject to serious questioning, but Mr English has closed off any options to preserve the building because he has pre-determined its demolition.”
Ms van Bohemen said that the Institute of Architects’ judgement of the importance of Aniwaniwa is supported by the Registration Report prepared in 2012 for the New Zealand Historic Places Trust – now Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga – which successfully advocated for the building’s Historic Place Category One heritage listing.
The Report found that Aniwaniwa “features many elements of Māori architecture in its marae-based form”, and responds to “the immense importance of its surroundings through carefully considered form and pathways to honour the beauty and wairua of the landscape, and function as a storehouse of invaluable taonga and the visitor gateway to New Zealand’s fourth largest national park.”
“The Visitor Centre is architecturally significant as a building of great consequence in the body of work of this nationally and internationally acclaimed New Zealand architect, whose designs have achieved high recognition and awards,” the Registration Report said.
Ms van Bohemen said New Zealand has often been careless with its built heritage, but she had hoped attitudes were changing.
“It is always disappointing when Government agencies fail to protect the national legacy, but it is unforgiveable when they actively promote its destruction.”
“The Department of Conservation should reconsider its course of action immediately.”
Posted by Craig Martin at 1:23 PM
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
THE former visitor centre at Lake Waikaremoana has sparked further dispute. Advocates claim the Crown is demolishing it by neglect, and local Maori are threatening to occupy it.
The construction of the new visitor centre, Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana, is well under way on a lakeside site near Waikaremoana Holiday Park.
But the original 1976 building, located further inland and designed by Maori architect the late John Scott, is visibly deteriorating, to the dismay of a group of architects and heritage lovers who are claiming political interference.
Loosely organised under the name Historic Places Aotearoa (HPA), the group says the Department of Conservation (DoC) “for many years has shown an inability to manage built heritage properly. This is no more clearly demonstrated than with the managaement of the visitor centre”.
The building is listed as a category 1 building, with government organisation Heritage New Zealand (formerly the Historic Places Trust) but HPA says DoC is planning to demolish it “in the near future”.
“Demolition would mean the loss of one of this country’s significant pieces of modern architecture,” says the advocacy group. Gisborne architect James Blackburne is a member.
HPA says it understands that Heritage NZ staff have been instructed to not advocate for the retention of the building, which “would appear to be political meddling at its worst and needs to be highlighted to the New Zealand public before it is too late”.
“Heritage NZ is meant to be an autonomous Crown entity. Obviously some higher powers have forgotten this.
“This is the exact type of political meddling that many in the heritage fraternity were concerned about years ago when Heritage NZ became an autonomous Crown entity.”
More here. Gisborne Herald 11/7/16
Posted by Craig Martin at 8:30 AM
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana intend to occupy the Aniwaniwa Visitors centre owned by the Department of Conservation in the hope that the conservation reopens the centre. However, the building has been deemed unsafe and has been vacant since 2008.
There is a power struggle in Lake Waikaremoana and it all starts with the Aniwaniwa Visitors centre.
Tahurioterangi Trainor Tait (Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana) says, “We are against the dismantling of this building because we believe that it is not right to do so.”
Maori Television More here (plus video)
Posted by Craig Martin at 9:58 AM
Waikaremoana iwi Ngati Ruapani has asked the Environment Court to block the demolition of one of the country's architectural treasures.
Spokesperson Vern Winitana says the former Te Urewera National Park headquarters was designed by the first Maori registered architect, John Scott of Ngati Kahungunu.
It opened in 1976 and was furnished with taonga from iwi around the lake as well as a mural by Colin McCahon.
Mr Winitana says the Department of Conservation allowed it to fall into disrepair after it was closed eight years ago, and now wants to demolish it with support from Ngai Tuhoe.
"Te Uru Taumata, the Ngai Tuhoe representative group, want to see it demolished and want to expunge, their words, the colonial environment this building purports to represent. That's their view. We disagree with that. We indicated some years ago Ngati Ruapani was keen to see the building retained, and if they are going to leave it now, we will take it over," he says.
Mr Winitana says professionals assessed the building when Ngati Ruapani occupied it last week and concluded it was structurally sound and just needed some cosmetic repairs.
Radio Waatea More here...
Posted by Craig Martin at 9:47 AM
Sunday, July 3, 2016
The New Zealand Home (TV1, 7.30pm). A new local series with a slightly gimmicky premise: architect Ken Crosson introduces sports-jock DJ and host of Our First Home Goran Paladin to the many styles of New Zealand architecture so he can get an idea of what to do with his Birkdale “do-up”. Paladin plays dumb a little too well, but Crosson makes the cool stuff, such as the Martin House in Hastings by Maori architect John Scott, accessible.
NZ Listener & on Stuff
Starts Friday 8 July 2016 On Demand here...
Posted by Craig Martin at 5:06 PM
Saturday, July 2, 2016
Since its grand opening in 1961, Wellington's Futuna Chapel – devised by architect John Scott and artist Jim Allen – has held a singular place in New Zealand's cultural history. Futuna: Life of a Building tells the remarkable story of the chapel's inception and construction, and its status beyond as well as within the architectural world. The book also tells the vexed story of the chapel's sale to a developer in 2001 and its subsequent dereliction and, at the eleventh hour, rescue. Since then, the chapel has been transformed from a place of Catholic worship to a non-denominational centre for spiritual, cultural and artistic expression. With essays by Chris Cochran, David Mitchell, Niall McLaughlin, Gregory O’Brien and Nick Bevin and photographs by Paul McCredie and Gavin Woodward, this book takes us into the heart of one of the most dynamic and affecting human-made structures in Oceania. Here...
Posted by Craig Martin at 7:56 PM