Remuera Heritage 2022 Annual Report

AGM 27 May 2022

AGM Guest Speaker, historian and heritage consultant Dr Joanna Boileau speaking on the history of Ladies College.

Nau mai haere mai, tena koutou katoa; welcome to members, Councillor Desley Simpson, Troy Churton, Colin Davis, members of the Orakei Local Board and friends of the society.

Events in 2020/21

After two years of Covid we’ve really missed having our events. Our last event was June last year – a talk from Bill MacKay of Auckland University on the dilemma between the need for more housing with good design but will it put built heritage at risk. Another event was our last AGM with Tony Batistich on transport in Remuera and one in April by Debra Millar on her beautiful book of grand homesteads in New Zealand.

Future events

The Auckland Heritage Festival is on again in October 2022 with the same theme as last year’s cancelled one on the topography, taonga and trailblazers of Tāmaki Makaurau. Remuera Heritage is putting together a range of speakers to explore the history of Ōhinerau Mt Hobson. The date for the event is Friday 14 Oct, 6.30pm-8pm at Remuera Library. Our topic will explore how Ōhinerau / Mt Hobson’s slopes have long been an inspiration to Māori and Pākehā.

We are still planning to have a concert at St Luke’s Church with the newly restored organ – Christmas would be a good time to do this!  We’d really like to hear your ideas for future talks and visits – please contact any of the committee with ideas.


The biggest issue this year has been Auckland Council’s response to the bipartisan (Labour and National) National Policy Statement on Urban Development and Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 to increase the intensification of housing in Auckland, with little allowance for consultation and submissions. The biggest threat to Remuera is the removal of the single house zone to be replaced by a Mixed Housing Urban (MHU) zone or by Terrace Housing and Apartment Blocks (THAB) zone and the removal of the special character area (SCA) overlay.

What it Means if Your House is Removed from a Special Character Area:

  • 3-storey houses and extensions can be built on your property and that of your neighbour
  • Three houses can be built on one site as of right, and sites can be subdivided to allow each new lot to have three houses
  • Each of these houses may be built up to 12 metres high (compared with the current rule limit of 9 metres)
  • Building will be allowed up to only 1 metre from side and rear residential boundaries, and 1.5 metres from the front boundary
  • A height –to- boundary requirement of 4 metres high then increasing on a 60 degree plane (the compared with the current rules requiring 3 metres and 45 degrees)
  • Minimal design requirements
  • Site coverage will be increased to 50% maximum
  • There will be a landscaping minimum of only 20%, and this can include a canopy of trees even if the land is paved beneath
  • No resource consent will be required for any of this

We’ve already seen the effect in Remuera where grand old houses have been demolished to make way for up to 20 townhouses e.g. 78 Orakei Rd, 37 St Vincent Avenue, 44 Ventnor Road and 37 Upland Road, with more to come. Areas like Remuera and Parnell have been stripped of their special character overlay.

Preliminary feedback from the council on submissions says, “Support for the council’s proposal to identify some special character areas as a qualifying matter to limit building height and density in those areas, (was) 42% of individual submitters and 66% of survey respondents.” However, if you add in the 30% of individual respondents who wanted more SCA’s retained, the support for retaining SCA’s was 72% (42 plus 30). Only 19% did not want SCA’s retained.

The NPS-UD and the Resource Management Amendment Act require that a proposed intensification plan change (IPI) must be notified by 20 August 2022.

Remuera Heritage is part of the Character Coalition, an umbrella group of about 60 heritage and residents’ associations throughout Auckland. The Coalition has been very active in preparing submissions with expert help from lawyers and planners and submitting on our behalf, hence our support for them.

Heritage properties

‘Remuera’s Century-Old Homes’ campaign to capture and share the stories of some of Remuera’s many historic homes continues.  We have identified residences and buildings that have a special place in our built heritage, where the house and/or its people have made a meaningful contribution to the story of Remuera, Auckland and in some cases New Zealand. This last year we have researched 31, 33, 35 and 37 Bell Road and St Anns 43 Arney Road which form a significant part of the 19th century history of Remuera. We have more histories planned for this year e.g. 229 and 231 Remuera Road.

We are also continuing work on identifying houses in Remuera designed by noted architects such as Roy Binney, Horace Massey, Roy Lippincott, Gummer & Ford and more. Most of these houses are now under threat and it’s important we continue to identify these houses and architects.

Publishing – print and digital

Sales of the Great Feast at Remuera booklet continue and have generated interesting conversations about the actual location of the feast. We think we have established where it happened and would like to have another event around this to hear what you think. And we’re still selling our copies – please buy one – it’s a bargain!

We commissioned a history of Ladies College to be researched and written by Joanna Boileau who has produced a great insight into the private girls’ school on Portland Road and Garden Road. I was sad to hear of the death in February of Joan Thompson aged 96 who was the last surviving pupil of Ladies College. Joan was age 8 when it closed  – we will hear from Joanna tonight about this.

 Management Committee

Jan Bierman has relocated to Christchurch but we have retained her services to produce our great newsletter. Past Chair of Remuera Heritage Terry Sutcliffe also relocated to Christchurch with his family, and we will miss his input into creating great events and collections. I wish both of them well in their new adventures. Meanwhile we have an empty cabinet in the library – what shall we do with it?

Finally, I would like to thank the wonderful committee for their commitment and company:  Our Secretary Stuart Hayman, Treasurer John Ryan, and our committee Bryan Haggitt, Jenny Scott, Brian Cooper, and Sue Johnston and Sue Jackson of Remuera Library, who provide us with this wonderful venue.

We desperately need some new members on our committee – the society is at a stage in its development where we need some more committee members. We want to maintain our focus on protecting our Remuera heritage and our informative and social programme of events. I hope you will consider getting involved. We really do need your help.

Sue Cooper, Chair

20 May 2022