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Remuera Heritage 2019 Annual Report

15-May-2019

Chair’s Annual Report to 31 March 2019  

Kia ora koutou katoa; welcome to members, our patron John Strevens, Councillor Desley Simpson, David Seymour M.P., members of the Orakei Local Board and friends of the society.  

In Memoriam 

Remuera Heritage was very sad to hear of the death of John Stacpoole on September 5th 2018. John was a past resident of Remuera, a friend to Remuera Heritage and a gentleman and a scholar. He was New Zealand's first heritage architect. His 1976 book Colonial architecture in New Zealand was the first to piece together the story of New Zealand’s notable buildings and their architects. Remuera Heritage recently completed an oral history with him on social life in Auckland between the two wars. 

Also Susan Wong, sister of Joana, Margaret and David Wong, who passed away in July 2018. Susan was a member of Remuera Heritage who was always very helpful in organizing events with us.

And Michael Horwood who was the owner of Peppercorn Kitchenware, who I interviewed back in 2014 about the Remuera shops.



Events in 2018 

Heritage architect Graeme Burgess spoke to us in July 2018 about the architectural history of Remuera houses, particularly in Upland Road where he grew up. In June 2018 we had a tour of the Church of Scientology in Grafton Road with Robin Byron of Heritage New Zealand. The building was originally the Methodist Theological College in 1929 after it was previously located at Dunholme in Remuera. The Church had spent $6 million doing a complete restoration and seismic strengthening to transform the building in 2017, after buying it from the Whitecliffe College of Art and Design for $10 million. 

During the Auckland Heritage Festival, Professor Rob Allen of AUT spoke on the arts and craft movement which originated in England with William Morris and influenced many Remuera houses, namely the Wrigley house in Ladies Mile, Baytree Cottage in Mainston Road, the Hanna house in Arney Road, Fairley in Bassett Road and St Ann’s in Arney Road. Ruth Lam also gave a talk on the Chinese Fruiterers in Remuera, the Wongs, Lums, Chinns and Tams, based on the book Fruits of our Labours, a comprehensive history of Chinese fruiterers in New Zealand. 

In November 2018, we visited the Bruce McLaren Heritage Centre at Hampton Downs. We had lunch in the very nice café and a tour of the new premises which has a lounge/library for looking at memorabilia. The building at 590 Remuera Road was sold and bought by Brian Rose who has renovated the interior and exterior, retaining the signature wall inside the McLaren flat. The School Uniform Shop currently sited opposite is moving into the downstairs ground floor. We are looking at a heritage plaque to go up on the wall at 590. 2019 will be the 60th anniversary of Bruce’s first Formula One win at Sebring, Florida and the 50th anniversary of being awarded the Segrave Trophy – the only other new Zealander to have won it was Jean Batten in 1938. 

This year we’ve had Dr Mels Barton speak on kauri dieback disease which threatens our natural heritage as there is no cure – and the pathogen Phytopthhora can affect not just kauri but other trees as well, such as the jarrah in Western Australia. It’s the same pathogen that caused the potato blight and has killed many avocado trees. New Zealand has done virtually no scientific research and analysis in to kauri, or indeed any of our native species, as there was no economic reason to do so – it’s just starting to happen. Dingle Dell and Waiatarua reserve are sites in the Orakei Local Board area that are being monitored.  

To cap this financial year off, we were invited by John and Catherine Strevens to a Sunday afternoon at their home St Ann’s in Arney Road, which transcends the usual heritage style to be a uniquely decorated house of beauty and grandeur. Let’s hope a new owner is found who cares as much about this beautiful house as the Strevens do. 

Future events 

13 June 2019 Associate Professor Margaret Stanley, University of Auckland will speak on the Auckland Urban Forest - Thursday 13th June 2019. Despite efforts from Auckland Council to maintain tree protection, amendments to the Resource Management Act in 2015 lifted blanket tree protection in urban areas and removed protection for the vast majority of trees on private urban properties. When considered alongside urban development, threats from pests, diseases and the impacts of climate change, our urban forest ngahere needs a special focus. The objective of the council strategy is to have average tree canopy cover of 30 per cent across our urban area, and they’re aiming for all local board areas to have more than 15 per cent canopy cover. The council says, put simply, we want more trees across all of Auckland. 

July 11th 2019 – Auckland Council archivists are coming to talk about how to find out about your home’s heritage in the archives. There’s a wealth of information to be found if you know where to look. 

The Auckland Heritage Festival is on again in October 2019 and we have two events lined up: Bruce Renshaw of Victoria Avenue on Wilson’s beach and jetty that he has been instrumental in restoring. And Councillor Mike Lee on his new book on the French navigators and explorers in New Zealand. We hear a lot about James Cook of course but nothing about the French. 

We’d love to do some more visits to Remuera’s historic houses and buildings – if you know of any available for a visit, please let me know. 

Planning 

In 2017 we met with Auckland Council’s Historic Heritage team to look at potential historic heritage sites in Remuera. I said last year that we should know the results this year, but nothing has been forthcoming yet. Four properties are proposed to go through to a plan change later this year. Meanwhile there are properties that are left vacant and start to deteriorate – this is demolition by neglect. Here are a couple of examples at 107 Bell Road and 24 Ridings Road. If you know of any others, please take a photo and let us know. 

Remuera Railway Station 

Remuera Heritage continues to support The Remuera Railway Station Preservation Trust in its efforts with Auckland Transport to restore this unique island station for community use. Auckland Transport have prepared an Agreement to Occupy contract which the Trust has signed. We are now trying to raise the money to restore the interior through applying for funds from various grant-making organisations. It’s a long slow complex process. 

PROJECTS 

Oral histories

Mary Donald completed five oral histories last year and are looking to do more this year. We have a list of names but always welcome more suggestions. 

Heritage properties 

We’re looking at commissioning a series of photos of the Remuera shops and historic houses in Remuera as change is happening so fast. We’re also looking at doing some documenting of the history of the site known as the village green, stables, the site of the original Remuera Fire Station and Council Works Depot. We have written to Auckland Council about the state of the Remuera Library steel windows which are rusting away – Auckland Council owns this category 1 listed building and has a responsibility to maintain its own heritage properly. The Orakei Local Board will monitor this.  

Communications 

We need a new website as the current platform we use to create it on is being withdrawn. We’re obtaining proposals from other suppliers for a new design and platform. And I’m always looking for new content and innovative ways to present all the information we have on Remuera. There are now over 150 profiles of WW1 soldiers and nurses from Remuera – this one suburb provided so many talented and courageous officers and nurses who were awarded with honours during the war. We have digitised some of the Remuera Round and hope to do more. 

Management Committee 

Finally I would like to thank the wonderful committee: Stuart Hayman, Ken Bierman, Bryan Haggitt, Brian Cooper, David Pittman, Jan Bierman, Sue Johnston & Sue Jackson of Remuera Library, who provide us with this wonderful venue. We always need some new members on our committee – the society is at a very exciting stage in its development and we want to maintain our informative and social programme of events. I hope you will consider getting involved. 

 Sue Cooper, Chair, 10 May 2019