Remuera Heritage 2016 Annual Report
Welcome to members, members of the Orakei Local Board and friends of the society.
Chair’s Annual Report to 31 March 2017
2017 is our 10th anniversary – Remuera Heritage was started after the demolition of Coolangatta at 464 Remuera Road in December 2006 – Jennifer Wiseman, Remuera community librarian, convened the first meeting on 25th May 2007 and Terry Sutcliffe was elected as Chair of Remuera Heritage.
The last 12 months have seen some fabulous events – We have had a focus on the 100 year commemorations of World War One, starting with the Anzac Day Remembrance Service at St Aidan’s Church war memorial. Herb Farrant of the N Z Military Historical Society spoke very movingly on the Battle of the Somme on the Western Front in France, which occurred 100 years ago from July-November 1916. It was on the Somme that the majority of New Zealanders were killed or wounded during the First World War. And it was here that New Zealand experienced its worst days in military history in terms of loss of life. The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand’s first major engagement on the Western Front. It took a huge toll on the 15,000 members of the New Zealand Division who were involved. Roughly one in seven of the division who fought on the Somme was killed, and about four in every 10 were wounded. Thirty plus men from Remuera were killed at the Battle of the Somme. During the Auckland Heritage Festival we joined the Remuera Railway Station Preservation Trust to look at the interior of the station with Graeme Burgess, heritage architect. This interesting old building is of historical significance both to the history of Remuera and to New Zealand’s rail heritage. Graeme Burgess and Lilli Knight spoke about their updated conservation plan for this station and their work on other heritage stations.
At our Christmas party, Thomas Swinburn from Dilworth College spoke on his being a Young Ambassador for New Zealand on the Shared Histories project to commemorate the First World War. Thomas travelled to Arras and Quesnoy in France to participate in commemoration services for the Battle of the Somme. This year we went to Auckland Grammar School as it was the 100th anniversary of the opening of the main Spanish Mission-style building. And last month we went to the Bruce McLaren Trust museum at the Upland Road shops where we were hosted by Bruce McLaren’s sister Jan McLaren. The trust has kept the name alive in New Zealand – McLaren is a global car racing brand and Jan’s efforts has ensured his name and heritage is preserved and promoted from here in Remuera. For this coming year, we’re looking at a Night at the Tudor Theatre evening and showing some old Auckland movies, doing more on the history of the Remuera shops, the Auckland Heritage Festival with a theme of transport (Trains & Boats & Planes) – and a visit to the Crown Lynn Pottery museum at New Lynn.
Auckland Unitary Plan
The Auckland unitary Plan is more or less over and adopted as the blueprint for the future development of Auckland. In February this year, the Environment Court confirmed that the decision by Auckland Council at the last minute means to change the zoning of many streets that were single house zones in the unitary plan to multi-level dwellings was legal and will now stand. The change in zoning from Single House to Terrace Housing & Apartment Buildings affected 29,000 house owners who were given no right of reply to this. The Character Coalition said:- “We believe the Council reacted to the massive pressure it was under from the development lobby and denied 29,000 ratepayers any form of natural justice”. The Character Coalition rejected claims that the rezoning was required to solve Auckland’s housing crisis. “The land in many of these streets is so valuable that what we are now seeing is people buy old villas and demolish them and build bigger houses – but many of these new houses are not in character with the area and still do nothing to solve the housing crisis.” We are working on identifying buildings that should be listed on the Historic Heritage Schedule and working with Auckland Council, the Orakei Local Board and Heritage New Zealand to accomplish this. And while I am on this topic, I would like to mention the sterling work and support we have received from Chair Desley Simpson and Troy Churton of the Orakei Local Board. There were some successes from the unitary plan process:
The Remuera Railway Station was moved from Category B to A by Auckland Council on the Historic Heritage Schedule. Ditto for the Remuera Public Library and Mainston House/Manor at 4 Mainston Rd, which is Remuera’s oldest house built in 1853. Meanwhile old villas in Remuera continue to be removed or demolished, particularly in Clonbern Road. This coming year we are working on prioritizing 4 or 5 Remuera buildings to be added to the Historic heritage Schedule and on a project to identify and present in a graphical format the Remuera shops from the early 20th century to 2000.
The website has had more biographies of Remuera WW1 servicemen added, including that of Henry John Innes Walker Henry John Innes Walker, known as Jack Walker, of Victoria Avenue, Remuera was killed near Ypres on 25th April 1915 and his remains were found 101 years later in a Flanders field by an archaeological team preparing the way for a gas pipeline to be laid. His New Zealand descendants were interviewed on New Zealand, Belgium and U K television. http://www.remueraheritage.co.nz/people/ww1-henry-john-innes-walker Places added included the Mission Sisters House at 78 Upland Road and the Remuera Children’s Home which was in Portland Road from 1903 to 1913. http://www.remueraheritage.co.nz/places
Photo: Sue Cooper, Chair & Sue Jackson, Remuera Library Manager
A monthly article appeared in the April 2017 issue of The Hobson on the Boucher brothers, Edgar (Teddy) and Arthur, who were in the Battle of the Somme. The Facebook page for Remuera Heritage has 115 followers and I post regular updates on heritage in Remuera and heritage in general. If you are on Facebook, please have a look. The e-newsletter which is now able to be delivered through the website system also reaches about 130 people and is a good way to promote Remuera Heritage. We have also provided the information for the heritage plaques being placed on Remuera’s oldest buildings in the shops.
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. David Pittman is currently getting things shipshape so that we can talk to Auckland Transport about funding for the restoration of the interior.
I’d like to note the passing of 2 valued members – Thelma Down who with her husband Trevor were members from the beginning of Remuera Heritage, and also Richard Hanna in 2015.
Finally I would like to thank the wonderful committee: Annette Jackman as secretary, Margaret Harris as treasurer, Terry Sutcliffe, Bryan Haggitt, Brian Cooper, Brett Logan, David Pittman, Sue Johnston & Sue Jackson of Remuera Library, who provide us with this wonderful venue. Also our thanks to Viv Logan and Jenny Haggitt who provide delicious food and drink for our very hospitable and welcoming meetings. We 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 5 May 2017