Remuera Heritage 2020 Annual Report
Chair’s Annual Report to 31 March 2020.
Kia ora koutou katoa; welcome to members, our patron John Strevens, Councillor Desley Simpson, Colin Davis, David Seymour M.P., members of the Orakei Local Board and friends of the society.
Remuera Heritage was saddened to hear of the passing of Gloria Poupard-Wallbridge on 20th January 2020 in Hong Kong. We visited her beautiful heritage home, Cotter House, which she loved, many times. She was a wonderful hostess and was always very generous when hosting us for Christmas parties and events. We were pleased to support her in her restoration of the house which was well known in the Remuera community. Her love of history and heritage was huge and she was always keen to share her knowledge about Cotter house and its history.
Events in 2019/2020
Remuera Heritage continued to have an interesting series of regular events, until COVID-19 forced us into lockdown.
In June 2019 Associate Professor Margaret Stanley, University of Auckland spoke on the Auckland Urban Forest and the threats to it from the removal of tree protection, urban developments, pests and climate change.
In August 2019 Valerie Muir talked about the history of her house and how she went about getting it listed on the council’s Historic Heritage List. She was joined by Megan Walker, Built Heritage Specialist of the Heritage Unit, Plans and Places Department, Chief Planning Office, of Auckland Council talking about the council process of listing a property on its Historic Heritage List. Auckland Council Archivists also spoke about how to find information on heritage properties in the council archives.
In September 2019 Peter Cropper presented his book: “The Croppers: Merchants and Engineers”, published in 2018. His family formed the New Zealand company Neill, Cropper & Co. which was innovative in introducing many new products to New Zealand and was involved with major New Zealand companies over the last 100 years. The Cropper family lived at Te Araroa, 7 St Vincent Avenue, Remuera.
On Sunday 16 February 2020 Peter Macky spoke to a full-house at the Remuera Railway Station on his restoration of the historic Kaiserbahnhof in Halbe, about 40 km southeast of Berlin.
Terry Moyle and illustrator Rosie Louise spoke at Remuera Library on the 12th March 2020 on the historic events behind New Zealand’s first successful aeroplane flights and the people behind them. In their book The First they have undertaken extensive research that provides insight into Remuera’s Walsh Brothers, Leo, Vivian and their sisters Doreen and Veronica, and other Edwardian pioneering men and women, such as aviator pioneers Jean Batten and the Henning brothers of Remuera.
During the lockdown, some of us took photos of Remuera under lockdown, which you can see on the website; pictures of empty Remuera shops, streets and motorways. In particular I want to thank Ruth Jasmat who took dozens of photos on her walks around Remuera.
The Auckland Heritage Festival is on again in October 2020 and we have one event lined up: a talk on the Great Maori Feast or Hakari at Remuera in 1844. Joseph Jenner Merret painted the feast in 1844 and later in the 1890s a lithograph was produced in New Zealand and Australia which was widely distributed through the Auckland Star newspaper. We hope to have an interactive display from the Auckland Museum on display in the library.
We will have a concert at St Luke’s Church with the newly restored organ – Christmas would be a good time to do this!
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.
In 2017 we met with Auckland Council’s Historic Heritage team to look at potential historic heritage sites in Remuera. Four properties have been included in the Council’s Plan Change 31 this year: the Remuera Primary School War Memorial Gates, the old Remuera Post Office, Glenholm in Portland Road and the Upland Road Shops as a Historic Heritage area. I said last year that we should know the results this year, but nothing has been forthcoming yet.
The Unitary Plan remains a constant challenge to protect our special character and built heritage. E.g. Proposed plan change 26 to the Auckland Unitary Plan. The hearing is from 24-28th July. Property owners in Remuera may have received a letter from Auckland Council if the council deems their property to be directly affected by the proposed changes. The Plan Change was notified on 30 May 2019. The plan change is a policy response by Auckland Council to an Environment Court declaration to clarify how the Special Character Areas Overlay – Residential (SCAR) – works with underlying zones e.g. the Single House zone which covers a large area of Remuera. Auckland Council are proposing the rules, standards and provisions of the Special Character Areas Residential Overlay prevail over those of the underlying zone, e.g. Single House zone.
I want to particularly thank Jennifer Hayman for her work in drafting our submissions on these important plan changes. She understands not only the Unitary Plan but also equally important, the process of plan changes and the Resource Management Act.
Remuera Railway Station
There is not a lot to report on this ongoing project. 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. Meanwhile the exterior of the Railway Station which was restored by the Trust and David Pittman in the 1990s is deteriorating. Neither AT nor KiwiRail are prepared to do anything about it. The station building is again being covered in graffiti and tagging, and Marseilles tiles are falling off along with other bits of the building. The paint is peeling and fading fast. Here are some photos of what the exterior and interior look like in 2020. Thanks to David Pittman, Jenny Scott and Jon Moses for persevering with this.
We commissioned a series of photos of Valerie Muir’s house which was listed last year. We commissioned The Heritage Studio to research the Village Green site which is now being developed. We have written to Auckland Council about the state of the Remuera Library steel windows which are rusting away – Auckland Council owns this category A listed building and has a responsibility to maintain its own heritage properly. The Orakei Local Board are monitoring this. Auckland Council should be maintaining its own heritage properties from its core budget under the Heritage Asset Management Plan. And if only Auckland Transport and KiwiRail would do the same!
We had to get a new website as the old platform was ceasing. The Remuera Heritage committee determined that as it was unlikely that Remuera Heritage, in the short-medium term, would have a physical space our new website should be created as a virtual/digital place. We contracted an audit from which we developed a brief, then sought proposals/quotations from three web designers/developers. Strategy Creative was chosen to undertake the project. During 2019 Sue Cooper and Jan Bierman edited content for the new website. The website became live in November 2019. It’s much easier to find your way around and displays all our stories much better.
The new website enables us to curate a broader range of content from visual, text-based, mixed-formats and technologies, and has improved user experience, functionality, and navigation. It has an exhibition space, story map links, a sharing platform, and is integrated with social media and newsletter channels.
We wish to thank the Ohinerangi Charitable Trust for their sponsorship of the new Remuera Heritage Website. My thanks to Jan Bierman for doing this and also the new e-newsletter.
Finally I would like to thank the wonderful committee: Stuart Hayman, Ken Bierman, Bryan Haggitt, Brian Cooper, David Pittman, Jan Bierman, Jenny Scott, and Sue Johnston and 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.
24 July 2020