MEDIA STATEMENT ON THE NEED TO RETAIN THE THREATENED NG BUILDING From: Christchurch Civic Trust and Historic Places Canterbury.
1. The Christchurch Civic Trust (“CCT”) and Historic Places Canterbury (“HPC”) strongly support the retention of the historic NG building, 212 Madras St. “Our primary aim is to see this important heritage building retained for the city’s future,” said Mark Gerrard, Chair of HPC.
2. Professor Chris Kissling, Chair of CCT said “We object to the fate of the building being a matter subject to special post-earthquakes legislation by which normal RMA democratic process is bypassed. Much to the detriment of democracy and the city, this approach was freely used by the National-led government and now, in several other instances by the Labour government.”
3. “The NG building was not included at the time CCDU was compulsorily acquiring properties in the Madras St area,” continued Dr Kissling. “Owners Roland Logan and Sharon Ng have shown incredible determination in retaining, earthquake strengthening and fully restoring this wonderful building. It will be manifestly unfair if LINZ does not honour the promise CERA made to them that their building would not be included at a later date in the acquisitions and that the historic building was capable of being incorporated in the design of the all-purpose arena”. He noted that the NG Boutique Café and Gallery was awarded a Category A Award in the Christchurch Civic Trust Annual Awards in 2009. “We are proud to continue our support for this building and its owners Roland Logan and Sharon Ng in their hour of need”.
4. “We appeal to the Minister for LINZ Hon Damien O’Connor to intervene and direct his ministry to act in good faith towards the owners”, Chris Kissling continued. Kissling and Gerrard are appalled that ten tears after the earthquake event, strong-arm government action is still being used to deny public participation, bypassing the RMA. “We would like to remind the Government that in opposition firstly Grant Robertson and then Jacinda Ardern, as spokespersons for heritage, were vocal in their condemnation of the National-led government’s ‘scorched earth’ treatment of post-quake Christchurch heritage, including the widespread use of the s38 and the compulsory acquisition of inner-city sites for various redevelopment projects.”
5. CCT and HPC wholeheartedly support members of the public who have written to The Press urging the designers to exercise their utmost creativity to ensure that the building becomes an integral part of the complex. Retention and integration of the distinctive exterior and wonderful interior, complete with its original kauri match lining walls and kauri flooring, would provide a vivid link to this site’s past and a shining example of how old and new can co-exist. It is an important reminder of the commercial buildings of the past which are all too rare in the city.
6. The Christchurch City Council document ‘Our Heritage, Our Taonga – Heritage Strategy 2019 – 29’ shows that context and function are important parts of what constitutes ‘heritage’; this building was a key part of the commercial urban fabric of the city for well over 100 years and it stands as one of the very few survivors in this part of the city. From the document: Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner, Introduction p4 “Our heritage is precious and valuable. It has social, cultural, educational, recreational and commercial benefits. It contributes to our cultural wellbeing and brings visitors to the district.” Executive Summary P 10: “We have always shown pride in our heritage, and have a long history of striving to protect it. The loss of our heritage buildings and places as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes changed Christchurch forever. … It has also raised awareness of the importance of retaining our remaining built heritage as being vital to the district’s identity.” (our emphasis)
7. “In the extremely regrettable event of it being deemed absolutely impossible to incorporate the NG building into the stadium, HPC and CCT would fully support relocation to a nearby site, if requested by the owners, who have investigated means by which this could be achieved,” said Mark Gerrard. He notes that Murray Strong, Chair of the arena’s project delivery company appears to be very interested in the possibility of a location move for the building. “Heritage New Zealand Poutere Taonga and Christchurch City Council Heritage Team would need to be fully involved in this process,” Gerrard added.
8. Ross Gray, Deputy Chair of both groups said, “With climate change in mind, we wish to draw attention to the part the retention of existing building stock can and should play in mitigating the effects of climate change. The adage that ‘the greenest building is the one standing’ has unfortunately not been a guideline for the treatment of heritage buildings post-Canterbury earthquakes.”
9. “Cement production alone accounts for about 8% of global CO2 emissions. As it is, the destruction of AMI stadium and the construction of the enormous new covered all-purpose arena will incur a heavy environmental toll. The retention of the embodied energy of the building along with the retention of its invaluable historic record should be regarded as essential and complementary aspects of the development of this new Christchurch facility,” Gray said.
10.Christchurch Civic Trust and Historic Places Canterbury urge all parties to work together to achieve a win-win for heritage, sport and culture – and for the environment.
Dr Chris Kissling (Chair Christchurch Civic Trust) Mark Gerrard (Chair Historic Places Canterbury)
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