Friday, September 2, 2016

Response from Nick Bevin


DoC press release announcing the beginning of the demotion of John Scott's building at Aniwaniwa on Monday 5 September. The lies that DoC continue to use to justify their stance need to be highlighted.

Some of my comments on the DoC press release as follows:

1. DoC have not provided any evidence that they have considered "all practical options" .

2. Wairoa District Council did not 'condemn" the building and the council has admitted that the notice they issued to close the building was issued in error and were prepared to remove it.

3. Information obtained under an OIA shows that the " substantial amount of money trying to maintain the building" is less than half the cost of the demolition. DoC had documented an expenditure of $ 82,000 from 2005 to 2011.

4. DoC failed to act on the expert advice given to it from 2005 as how to improve and maintain the building. If they had it would be in far better state than that which they have knowingly allowed it to fall into.

5. The building has been deemed by two independent engineers NOT to be earthquake prone.

6. The actual cost of remedying the building has been shown to be in the order of $ 350,000 to $ 500,000 and NOT the 2010 estimated cost of $ 3 million that DoC continues to maintain.

7. DoC have yet to provide any evidence that they "explored a number of options over the years' to find another use and/or owner for the building.

8. There has not [been] any evidence, seen or heard, to suggest that DoC made any serious and/or sustained attempts to seek "proposals from parties interested in repurposing the building'.

9. The statement that DoC have all the appropriate permits is misleading. They actually do not need any permits (resource consent nor building consent) as the Wairoa District Council have been deficient in executing their mandate under the RMA to take listed heritage Buildings into their district plan where they are afforded much more protection than a Heritage New Zealand listing ever can.

10. The proposed use of timber salvaged from the building is focussed on the 4 x 1 matai ceiling sarking. No calculation has been done as to whether there will be enough material once salvaged for the new building. My calculations show that there will not be enough material that will survive the salvage and remachining that is required.

11. Given the reinforced concrete sub floor and floor structure of the building and its remote location the costs for demolition will inevitably exceed those quoted by DoC. This is tax payers money being spent here. What is the real bill here?

Old Visitor Centre to be dismantled - DoC

Media release 2 September 2016

The Department of Conservation begins the dismantling and removal of the old Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre next week.

DOC Operations Director Meirene Hardy-Birch says DOC has considered all practical options for the old building since it was condemned by the Wairoa District Council, vacated and closed in 2008.

“This has been a difficult decision as so many parties have an interest in the building. We have had to balance those interests and it hasn’t been easy.

The 41-year-old building had weather tightness and stability issues for many years. Prior to its closure in 2008 the Department spent a substantial amount of money trying to maintain the building including re-roofing and re-cladding it, which was unsuccessful.

The 2010 estimated cost to bring the building up to current building standards and refit it for use was around $3m.

“We have explored a number of options over the years. We even sought proposals from parties interested in repurposing the building without success.”

The Department is now working with the Te Urewera Board and Ngai Tūhoe to enact the spirit of the Te Urewera settlement.

We are also working with Ngai Tūhoe in Te Urewera to ensure the spirt of the old building is bought into the new Wharehou currently under construction.

DOC have all the appropriate permits to dismantle the building, Hardy-Birch said.

Dismantling of the John Scott designed and DOC owned building at Waikaremoana marks a new era of visitor experience at Waikaremoana.

Some architects have opposed the move, as they are concerned for the legacy of the acclaimed architect of the building John Scott.

Chairman of the Waikaremoana Tribal Authority Lance Rurehe, respects these views but is equally determined to truly reflect a tangata whenua personality to enable a genuine Te Urewera Waikaremoana visitor experience. “Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana is merely that beginning.”

The Department is working with Te Uru Taumatua on the proposed development of a new Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana, with visitor information, located at Home Bay adjacent to the Waikaremoana Holiday Park.

Tūhoe and the Department of Conservation have partnered on the new development, with Tūhoe requiring a lake side location and setting to house heritage and visitor information, café, and overall connectedness to landscape, nature, lake, history, community and tangata whenua. A place for the whole whanau.

Chair of Te Urewera Board and Tūhoe - Te Uru Taumatua Tāmati Kruger said: “The Tūhoe investment into the new build exceeded that of DOC’s as a feature of Tūhoe leadership and influence in the new Tribal owned Visitor Centre. Or put another way, as designers of the new build Waikaremoana people will be free to express their world in the unique way they choose to do that.”

“Timber from the old visitor centre will be used in the new Wharehou. This will be a foundation upon which the visitors will come, and collaboration will occur. We all have a wish for the collective memory or wairua forged from relationships that have occurred through the old whare as an endowment in the new Wharehou,” he said.

An Auckland company will start the process of making the site and building safe onMonday September 5 before dismantling begins. The cost of dismantling the building, transferring the timber, removing, salvaging and disposing of any material at an approved landfill, and restoration of the site will cost around $180k.


NZIA re Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre 2/9/2016

It is not good news that I have to share on the Visitor Centre, Aniwaniwa. Having just been to a meeting with representatives of DoC (A/Director General Bruce Parkes and Mervyn English) I have been advised of the following:

- DoC will be issuing a media statement later today confirming its decision to demolish the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre
- Demolition work will commence on Monday 5 September 2016
- The demolition work will continue for 5-6 weeks
- DoC are implementing the decision of the Te Urewera Governance Board to demolish the building

Despite efforts to raise the serious shortcomings in the decision making on this building, which I know many of you are intimately aware of:
- Council’s decision to declare the building insanitary and earthquake prone
- Council’s inaction to see the building included within its District Plan register
- DoC’s 2011 call for expressions of interest, not widely or actively promoted by DoC
- Inadequate level of investment by DoC in the ongoing maintenance of the Visitor Centre for much of its existence
- DoC’s claims on the state of the building and extent of repairs/maintenance required
- Lack of urgent and immediate attention by DoC in maintenance issues as they arose
- The due consideration of the national significance of the architect John Scott and the Visitor Centre’s history and heritage in the decision making of DoC and Te Urewera Governance Board
- The definitive decisions of the Te Urewera Governance Board, despite other settlement claims in train and the Visitor Centre an asset of the Crown and not exclusively the Tūhoe or the Te Urewera Governance Board
- The lack of consideration by the Crown and the Te Urewera Governance Board in potentially ‘gifting’ the Visitor Centre to another party, which has occurred elsewhere - Great Barrier Island.

The NZIA will be advising all members of the decision today through the Bulletin. Other action includes alerting the media and seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Finlayson.

I’m sorry that I don’t have better news on this issue. The NZIA is however sincerely gratefully to everyone who has contributed, time, ideas, expertise to protect and conserve this national treasure.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 Aniwaniwa petition

Sign the petition here.

The Department of Conservation Deputy Director-General Mervyn English has advised in a court affidavit that the demolition of the Āniwaniwa Visitor Centre is imminent.

The visitor centre is a significant part of New Zealand’s modern architectural legacy, listed by Heritage New Zealand as a Category One Historic Place, and is a place of outstanding cultural value to New Zealand.

In 1969, Te Urewera National Park Board commissioned acclaimed Māori architect, the late, John Scott to design a headquarters at Āniwaniwa. Three years before its 1976 opening, a Tūhoe Trust Board member expressed pleasure that its concept and design embodied so much of the Urewera spirit and history of Māori occupation.

The following points are relevant to this petition:-

  • The building is of significant cultural and heritage value
  • The building is not earthquake prone based on two engineering reports
  • If the building is insanitary (leaks), this is due to the mismanagement of the facility by the Department of Conservation.

The Department of Conservation has not followed the requirements of the Te Urewera National Park Management Plan in making its decision and has not considered all parties with an interest in the building. The Department of Conservation has not advertised its intention to demolish this heritage building.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Institute of Architects urges DoC to save Aniwaniwa Centre

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.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Battle over lake building

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

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana intend to occupy the Aniwaniwa Visitors centre

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)