Welcome folks to the second annual general meeting of Historic Places Mid Canterbury.
As I look back over the past years efforts I am heartened to think that we have been out and about advocating heritage in our community on many occasions. Considering the small size of our committee, I believe we should all feel proud. It is testimony that small groups do work.
As our delegate I attended Historic Places Aotearoa annual general meeting in Wellington last November. This broadened my outlook on the organisation. There ispotential networking opportunities that we will hopefully tap into. HPA has, in my eyes, taken care of the national issues, allowing us to focus on the local.
We started 2013 in great style with a stall on Waitangi On East Street, organised by the Multi Cultural Bite group and Ashburton Retailers Association. Around 8,000 people attended this one day event. Many stopped at our stand to purchase jammed and creamed scones - a great fundraiser. And it heartens me at the number of people who stop and look at the ‘Lost Ashburton’ picture boards, pick up a heritage trial, or buy glass or books and talk to us. Well done scone makers and helpers – we are just the best!
Our March ramble attracted a nice following and gave us the opportunity for some newspaper publicity. White’s Cottage, Waterton and Windermere were excellent stops. We finished at Ealing Hall where the community has showcased the pioneer family history in the halls supper-room. I received many great comments on this day and consider it a big success.
Gilmore Blee gave us a great account of Waterton town-ship as it used to be. Sadly Gilmore passed away not very long after this occasion. He will be hugely missed for all his wealth of knowledge of our district, particularly Longbeach and surrounding areas. His writings are a legacy for us now and in the future.
Garth Gallagher also passed away earlier this year. Garth was a character and a member of our Ashburton HPT committee. He used his great woodworking skills to make the sturdy wooden frame for the Ealing roadblock interpretation panel. He also led the charge to stop the ‘powers that be’ from putting the sports stadium/swimming pool in our domain. As long as I knew Garth he was building his house, just across the road and along from where I live, this being around 8 years. Garth tinkered day and night. Although he never actually finished it, the hand-made wooden windows, staircase and just about every other component of the build are testimony to a fellow that simply didn’t want to give up.
In May I took the photo-boards, glass etc and shared a stand at the Antique Fair held in the Sports Hall. Again much interest in our town’s old buildings was received.
It was a good feeling to finally get the new logo on our buildings. Pity the purple doesn’t match the building colours!
Sadly the Ashburton Railway Station has been demolished and there is left a yawning great gap on the landscape. This is testimony to how vulnerable even our listed heritage buildings can be. This was not the result of earthquake damage and while many tried to save this iconic building the support from the community was simply not enough.
This past year has seen several older, some heritage listed buildings, demolished due to earthquake damage. And there are more to come down as I understand. It is hard to tell businessmen to earthquake strengthen and renovate an old building when a new build is more practical and cost effective.
However, our town centre is not the only place vintage buildings are disappearing. One only has to walk around the area bordered by West Street, River Terrace, Oak Grove and the domain to see villas and bungalows demolished in favour of two or three town houses on a section. It is happening in other parts of our town too.
Our secretary Andrew Hewitt had a wonderful article published on the front page of the Mid Canterbury Herald a few weeks ago promoting our vintage homes. It is the first in a series, initiated by our group. The second was Jane and Trevor Hurley’s villa. More to come.
We can promote vintage homes and encourage a stop this demolition mentality. These stories aim too create empathy, pride and awareness in our older character homes by showcasing some good examples.
Next on our agenda is Boulevard Day. No doubt this will prove another success as we stand up for heritage and create awareness.
Sadly we didn’t get enough support for our day trip to Hakatere. However, I look forward to our October afternoon at Gilbert Donaldson’s museum.
Lastly, thank you to all committee members for your enthusiasm and work over the last year. Sometimes I think we don’t do much, or do enough, but when you look back at the year we have achieved quite a lot. Andrew, thank you for the financial report and other things we don’t think about that you do – it really is appreciated.
As a last note, I would like to see us as a committee take on a project in the next year. It is something we can all put forward ideas for at our next meeting.
Thank you for your support of me over the past year as chairperson.