Historic Places Canterbury / Christchurch Civic Trust Media Release “Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library”

Media Release: Demolition of the Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library
Monday 14th February 2022

From Historic Places Canterbury and the Christchurch Civic Trust

"Historic Places Canterbury and the Christchurch Civic Trust call upon the Christchurch City Council to abandon its decision to demolish The Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library."

The Christchurch City Council (CCC) decided at the 10th February meeting to take over the ownership and demolish the Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library. The Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library dating back to 1919 is the first of seven built to commemorate the fallen of World War One. (The Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library consists of the Library and the Annex.)

Historic Places Canterbury (HPC) Chair Mark Gerrard:
"It is a shock the Christchurch City Council (CCC) decided to demolish the Upper Riccarton War Memorial Library, dedicated to the fallen of World War One, without extensive consultation with the community and heritage/interested stakeholders.

"The Report does not contain or refer to any type of heritage assessment of the Memorial Library by the CCC Heritage Team.
"The CCC should have shown leadership and had the Heritage Team formally assess the building(s) suitability to be protected by scheduling on the District Plan.

"The Council's "Our Heritage, Our Taonga" Strategy Executive Summary states "...We work together to recognise, protect and celebrate our heritage, ..." Surely this is a case where the Council and its Staff should have made an effort, to honour its own Heritage Strategy and decided to retain the building.

"A copy of the DEE (Detail Engineering Evaluation) was not attached to the report. For transparency it should have been included so it could be peer reviewed.

"Historic Places Canterbury considers the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library to be a living social link to an extremely significant  event in our past which should be preserved for our future generations.

Christchurch Civic Trust Chair Ross Gray:
"It is distressing the CCC did not actively reach out and seek an alternative for this much loved local iconic building which has a significant social history.

"This Memorial Library has stood for more than 100 years as a symbol to the fallen of World War One.  It was the first of seven such libraries. The CCC should show moral leadership and recognise this building is special by retaining it.

"I cannot find any reference to the CCC "Our Heritage Strategy, Our Taonga" (under Criteria for Retaining Council Property) in the report to the Council Meeting.
"Why was the CCC's Heritage Strategy "Our Heritage ,Our Taonga" not considered in the Report?

"The Residents of Christchurch might question why they spent time and effort submitting on "Our Heritage, Our Taonga" strategy, when in this case, it appears not to have been taken seriously by the Council and its Staff.

Dame Anna Crighton: 
‘What is wrong with the current generation who seem to be hell bent on erasing memories of our past?  This memorial exists to commemorate and honour those Cantabrians who died in World War 1. It is a tangible reminder of that sacrifice. 

‘Whaka- aturia nga mahi a o koutou tupuna hei raukura ma nga uri whaka- tupu.  Bring to light the achievements of your ancestors, gifts handed down through the generations to be handed on to the descendants yet unborn”.

Mark Gerrard
Chair Historic Places Canterbury

Ross Gray
Chair Christchurch Civic Trust

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