Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can We Trust The Historic Places Trust?

On Friday 16th April, or thereabouts, Auckland Regional Council received a bombshell from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust - or more correctly from the Auckland Branch of the Historic Places Trust. The letter was a bombshell because it signalled a strong interest from NZHPT in Queens Wharf and the sheds, and it was a bombshell because it arrived just in time to influence ARC decisions relating to its proposals for Queens Wharf.

You can view the letter here: http://www.joelcayford.com/NZHPTQueensWharf.pdf

The key things the letter states include:
- NZHPT is considering a registration nomination for the cargo sheds and wharf structure
- because the nomination "appears to have some merit" NZHPT is preparing a more in depth heritage assessment of the cargo sheds and wharf structure
- NZHPT "preliminary investigations indicates that the place has significant heritage values..."
- ..."given the heritage value of the place, both formally recognised and that identified by the Matthews and Matthews Assessment we would recommend to ARC that an heritage impact assessment is now undertaken in regard to ARC's preferred option for redevelopment, whether this involves adaptive re-use of some or all of the buildings and wharf, or total removal of the warehouses and modifications to the wharf..."

The letter was signed by Sherry Reynolds, General Manager Northern HPT.

After that letter, dated 15th April, arrived, Council staff, working with the ARC Chairman, prepared a set of officer recommendations relating to proposals for Queens Wharf that were sent out with the council agenda papers over the weekend. They included these recommendations:
a) That the report be received.
b) That the Council approves the staged development of Queens Wharf to
enable its use as a fan zone for Rugby World Cup 2011, and for the
construction of the permanent cruise ship terminal to commence immediately
after the 2011/12 cruise season.
c) That, subject to the agreement of the Government as the joint owner of
Queens Wharf, and subject to the approval of the Auckland Transition Agency
as required, the Council:
(i) Approves the erection of a temporary structure on Queens Wharf for
use as a fan zone for Rugby World Cup 2011. The Council notes that
the New Zealand Government will fund the design and build of the
temporary structure, and that the temporary structure will be used as a
cruise ship terminal for the 2011/12 cruise season.
(ii) Approves the completion of a heritage assessment of Queens Wharf
with the aim of recording its heritage, maximising the retention and
integration of heritage features on the wharf into the development, reusing
materials from the sheds and ensuring that appropriate
interpretation of the history and heritage of the wharf is reflected in the
development of the wharf.
(iii) Approves the dismantling of sheds 10 and 11 on Queens Wharf and
the storage of materials to maximise re-use in the development, and
authorises the Chief Executive to obtain the necessary consents and
approvals to carry out the work....

Then following some lobbying and changes at the ARC's confidential meeting on Monday, where the letter from NZHPT was of considerable influence, the final decisions included the following:
a) That the report be received
b) That the Council approves the staged dvelopment of Queens Wharf to enable its use as fan zone, visitor centre and public open space for Rugby World Cup 2011, and for the construction of the permanent cruise ship terminal to commence immediately after the 2011/2012 cruise season.
c) That, subject to the agreement of the Government as joint owner of Queens Wharf, and subject to the approval of the Auckland Transition Agency as required, the Council:
(i) approves, subject to the outcome of consultation with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, the dismantling of sheds 10 and 11 on Queens Wharf as required and the storage of materials to maximise re-use in the development, and authorises the Chief Executive to obtain the necessary consents to carry out the work.
(ii) works with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to complete a heritage assessment of Queens Wharf and its structures with the aim of recording its heritage, maximising the retention and integration of heritage features on the wharf into the development, re-using materials form the sheds and ensuring that appropriate interpretation of the history and heritage of the wharf is reflected in the development of the wharf.
(iii) approves the construction of a temporary structure on Queens Wharf for use as a fan zone, visitor centre and public open space for Rugby World Cup 2011. The Council notes that the New Zealand Government will fund the design and build of the temporary structure, and that the temporary structure will be used as a cruise ship terminal for the 2011/12 cruise season.....

I should note here, for the record, that a number of ARC Councillors voted against these resolutions. But a majority did. So these recommendations constitute an ARC decision. (By the way: you might be thinking I'm a bit of a scoundrel for discussing the contents of a confidential meeting. However I have not released any numbers or compromised any private interests. The matters I am sharing here are obviously in the public interest. The matters might be a little embarrassing, but they concern publicly owned assets, and public has a right to know.)

Regarding these recommendations - you may be wondering, what's the difference? The key difference is that the ARC's approval to dismantle (for which read: demolish) the sheds was "subject to the outcome of consultation with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust". And reading its letter you could be forgiven for coming to the view that the NZ HPT was actually serious about Auckland's waterfront heritage.

Then. On Monday. After the ARC's meeting, there was a surprise media release from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. It said this:
20 April 2010
MEDIA STATEMENT
Disappointment at loss of Queen’s Wharf buildings

The decision to demolish the two Queen’s Wharf sheds has been met with disappointment by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

“We would have preferred that a use be found for the sheds as part of the overall solution for this area, as it is an important part of New Zealand’s maritime history that will be lost,” said NZHPT Chief Executive, Bruce Chapman.

“Ways to adaptively reuse these buildings could have been explored, and we would have been prepared to support quite substantial changes to ensure as much of the buildings could be retained as possible.

“However we accept the position that has been adopted and now look forward to work closely with those involved in the design for the area to determine how much of the wharf’s characteristic features, such as the rail lines and moorings, can be retained.”

The NZHPT had been considering registration of the Queen’s Wharf, however will not be proceeding with this. Mr Chapman said the organisation would still like to have the opportunity to record more of the buildings’ information prior to their loss.

You will note that this media release came from the Chief Executive, Bruce Chapman, who is based in Wellington, in the NZHPT's head office.

The letter amounts to complete capitulation on the part of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. No registration. No heritage assessment. No call for a heritage impact assessment. (By the way - a cynical view is that the powers that be at ARC had some indication before the Council meeting that the Historic Places Trust would fold, and so there was nothing to lose in changing the recommendations to give an appearance that the HPT concerns were real...)

You really wonder why New Zealand would bother with an organisation that is so spineless at National level, and so unsupportive of genuine preservation work that its Regional Office was carrying out in Auckland. So unsupportive of their initiative which had been taken seriously by ARC, and was being acted upon. As you can see. And right now these sheds, Auckland's heritage, needs all the help it can get. The pressure and speed to dismantle/demolish must be slowed so good sense can prevail.

But really, if we can't trust Auckland's heritage with the NZ Heritage Protection Trust, and we certainly can't trust ARC, who can we trust?

3 comments:

Bill Rayner said...

Joel

It is unfortunate to see the Historic Places trust flip flop on the Queens Wharf sheds - at least one should be retained and converted at least partly into a museum featuring Auckland's history in the same way as the City and Sea Museum in the old Harbour Board building on the Wellington waterfront.

Unfortunately the Historic Places Trust has always been a latecomer to heritage preservation issues and they certainly need more backbone and a more proactive attitude to satisfactorily carry out their reason for being.

The ARC must also stand up and take a strong stance on preserving our heritage - protection of our regional environment, including heritage, is one of the main roles of the Council, never more so in the last days before the transition to the Super City and all the unknowns that that entails.

Kia kaha.

bruceross said...

Joel,
Thank you for publishing this sorry tale. To destroy these sheds and have the HPT simply express disappointment is something out of Monty Python. And what an irony for the ARC to leave as their wind up legacy a temporary (how temporary I wonder) plastic and steel tent.

Is there some way we can move the 'movers and shakers' to rethink? Is the Govt funding dependent on demolishing the sheds? Without having to remove them and save some bits a satisfactory initial refurbishment/adaptation of at least one of the sheds could be done for the proposed $23 million OR LESS cost of the temporary tent.

Kia kaha

Christopher Thompson said...

As advocates for the preservation of the city's built environment, the Auckland Branch of the NZHPT has consistently proven themselves to be wanting, so their backpeddling over the Queen's Wharf sheds hardly comes as a surprise. The fact that we have a few vestiges of historical buildings in Auckland has little to do with their advocacy; had we relied on the NZHPT to do what they were established to do we'd have nothing. One only needs to look at their ineffectual efforts over the former Jean Batten Post Office: no credible historic buildings preservation organisation would condone the sort of egregious façadism excercised there. And to rub salt into the wound, the replacement 'royal arms' they approved for the 'restored' façade has nothing whatsoever to do with what was there originally. Says it all, really.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can We Trust The Historic Places Trust?

On Friday 16th April, or thereabouts, Auckland Regional Council received a bombshell from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust - or more correctly from the Auckland Branch of the Historic Places Trust. The letter was a bombshell because it signalled a strong interest from NZHPT in Queens Wharf and the sheds, and it was a bombshell because it arrived just in time to influence ARC decisions relating to its proposals for Queens Wharf.

You can view the letter here: http://www.joelcayford.com/NZHPTQueensWharf.pdf

The key things the letter states include:
- NZHPT is considering a registration nomination for the cargo sheds and wharf structure
- because the nomination "appears to have some merit" NZHPT is preparing a more in depth heritage assessment of the cargo sheds and wharf structure
- NZHPT "preliminary investigations indicates that the place has significant heritage values..."
- ..."given the heritage value of the place, both formally recognised and that identified by the Matthews and Matthews Assessment we would recommend to ARC that an heritage impact assessment is now undertaken in regard to ARC's preferred option for redevelopment, whether this involves adaptive re-use of some or all of the buildings and wharf, or total removal of the warehouses and modifications to the wharf..."

The letter was signed by Sherry Reynolds, General Manager Northern HPT.

After that letter, dated 15th April, arrived, Council staff, working with the ARC Chairman, prepared a set of officer recommendations relating to proposals for Queens Wharf that were sent out with the council agenda papers over the weekend. They included these recommendations:
a) That the report be received.
b) That the Council approves the staged development of Queens Wharf to
enable its use as a fan zone for Rugby World Cup 2011, and for the
construction of the permanent cruise ship terminal to commence immediately
after the 2011/12 cruise season.
c) That, subject to the agreement of the Government as the joint owner of
Queens Wharf, and subject to the approval of the Auckland Transition Agency
as required, the Council:
(i) Approves the erection of a temporary structure on Queens Wharf for
use as a fan zone for Rugby World Cup 2011. The Council notes that
the New Zealand Government will fund the design and build of the
temporary structure, and that the temporary structure will be used as a
cruise ship terminal for the 2011/12 cruise season.
(ii) Approves the completion of a heritage assessment of Queens Wharf
with the aim of recording its heritage, maximising the retention and
integration of heritage features on the wharf into the development, reusing
materials from the sheds and ensuring that appropriate
interpretation of the history and heritage of the wharf is reflected in the
development of the wharf.
(iii) Approves the dismantling of sheds 10 and 11 on Queens Wharf and
the storage of materials to maximise re-use in the development, and
authorises the Chief Executive to obtain the necessary consents and
approvals to carry out the work....

Then following some lobbying and changes at the ARC's confidential meeting on Monday, where the letter from NZHPT was of considerable influence, the final decisions included the following:
a) That the report be received
b) That the Council approves the staged dvelopment of Queens Wharf to enable its use as fan zone, visitor centre and public open space for Rugby World Cup 2011, and for the construction of the permanent cruise ship terminal to commence immediately after the 2011/2012 cruise season.
c) That, subject to the agreement of the Government as joint owner of Queens Wharf, and subject to the approval of the Auckland Transition Agency as required, the Council:
(i) approves, subject to the outcome of consultation with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, the dismantling of sheds 10 and 11 on Queens Wharf as required and the storage of materials to maximise re-use in the development, and authorises the Chief Executive to obtain the necessary consents to carry out the work.
(ii) works with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to complete a heritage assessment of Queens Wharf and its structures with the aim of recording its heritage, maximising the retention and integration of heritage features on the wharf into the development, re-using materials form the sheds and ensuring that appropriate interpretation of the history and heritage of the wharf is reflected in the development of the wharf.
(iii) approves the construction of a temporary structure on Queens Wharf for use as a fan zone, visitor centre and public open space for Rugby World Cup 2011. The Council notes that the New Zealand Government will fund the design and build of the temporary structure, and that the temporary structure will be used as a cruise ship terminal for the 2011/12 cruise season.....

I should note here, for the record, that a number of ARC Councillors voted against these resolutions. But a majority did. So these recommendations constitute an ARC decision. (By the way: you might be thinking I'm a bit of a scoundrel for discussing the contents of a confidential meeting. However I have not released any numbers or compromised any private interests. The matters I am sharing here are obviously in the public interest. The matters might be a little embarrassing, but they concern publicly owned assets, and public has a right to know.)

Regarding these recommendations - you may be wondering, what's the difference? The key difference is that the ARC's approval to dismantle (for which read: demolish) the sheds was "subject to the outcome of consultation with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust". And reading its letter you could be forgiven for coming to the view that the NZ HPT was actually serious about Auckland's waterfront heritage.

Then. On Monday. After the ARC's meeting, there was a surprise media release from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. It said this:
20 April 2010
MEDIA STATEMENT
Disappointment at loss of Queen’s Wharf buildings

The decision to demolish the two Queen’s Wharf sheds has been met with disappointment by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

“We would have preferred that a use be found for the sheds as part of the overall solution for this area, as it is an important part of New Zealand’s maritime history that will be lost,” said NZHPT Chief Executive, Bruce Chapman.

“Ways to adaptively reuse these buildings could have been explored, and we would have been prepared to support quite substantial changes to ensure as much of the buildings could be retained as possible.

“However we accept the position that has been adopted and now look forward to work closely with those involved in the design for the area to determine how much of the wharf’s characteristic features, such as the rail lines and moorings, can be retained.”

The NZHPT had been considering registration of the Queen’s Wharf, however will not be proceeding with this. Mr Chapman said the organisation would still like to have the opportunity to record more of the buildings’ information prior to their loss.

You will note that this media release came from the Chief Executive, Bruce Chapman, who is based in Wellington, in the NZHPT's head office.

The letter amounts to complete capitulation on the part of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. No registration. No heritage assessment. No call for a heritage impact assessment. (By the way - a cynical view is that the powers that be at ARC had some indication before the Council meeting that the Historic Places Trust would fold, and so there was nothing to lose in changing the recommendations to give an appearance that the HPT concerns were real...)

You really wonder why New Zealand would bother with an organisation that is so spineless at National level, and so unsupportive of genuine preservation work that its Regional Office was carrying out in Auckland. So unsupportive of their initiative which had been taken seriously by ARC, and was being acted upon. As you can see. And right now these sheds, Auckland's heritage, needs all the help it can get. The pressure and speed to dismantle/demolish must be slowed so good sense can prevail.

But really, if we can't trust Auckland's heritage with the NZ Heritage Protection Trust, and we certainly can't trust ARC, who can we trust?

3 comments:

Bill Rayner said...

Joel

It is unfortunate to see the Historic Places trust flip flop on the Queens Wharf sheds - at least one should be retained and converted at least partly into a museum featuring Auckland's history in the same way as the City and Sea Museum in the old Harbour Board building on the Wellington waterfront.

Unfortunately the Historic Places Trust has always been a latecomer to heritage preservation issues and they certainly need more backbone and a more proactive attitude to satisfactorily carry out their reason for being.

The ARC must also stand up and take a strong stance on preserving our heritage - protection of our regional environment, including heritage, is one of the main roles of the Council, never more so in the last days before the transition to the Super City and all the unknowns that that entails.

Kia kaha.

bruceross said...

Joel,
Thank you for publishing this sorry tale. To destroy these sheds and have the HPT simply express disappointment is something out of Monty Python. And what an irony for the ARC to leave as their wind up legacy a temporary (how temporary I wonder) plastic and steel tent.

Is there some way we can move the 'movers and shakers' to rethink? Is the Govt funding dependent on demolishing the sheds? Without having to remove them and save some bits a satisfactory initial refurbishment/adaptation of at least one of the sheds could be done for the proposed $23 million OR LESS cost of the temporary tent.

Kia kaha

Christopher Thompson said...

As advocates for the preservation of the city's built environment, the Auckland Branch of the NZHPT has consistently proven themselves to be wanting, so their backpeddling over the Queen's Wharf sheds hardly comes as a surprise. The fact that we have a few vestiges of historical buildings in Auckland has little to do with their advocacy; had we relied on the NZHPT to do what they were established to do we'd have nothing. One only needs to look at their ineffectual efforts over the former Jean Batten Post Office: no credible historic buildings preservation organisation would condone the sort of egregious façadism excercised there. And to rub salt into the wound, the replacement 'royal arms' they approved for the 'restored' façade has nothing whatsoever to do with what was there originally. Says it all, really.