Minister Maggie Barry has generously supplied us with a copy of the text of the keynote address notes given on her behalf by Minister Craig Foss.
Her office advises these are speech notes and as such are not a verbatim copy of the address.
"Winston Churchill once said “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
With this in mind, it’s important to consider both tangible and intangible value in any conversation about cultural heritage so that we are able to identify and protect our heritage places for present and future generations."
Hon Craig Foss
On behalf of Hon Maggie Barry
Historical Places Aotearoa Conference, Saturday 29 October 2016
Thank you for inviting me here to this weekend of discussion, reflection and forward-thinking about New Zealand’s unique heritage places.
I’m pleased to be here on behalf of the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, but also as the Member of Parliament for the Tukituki electorate here in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay.
And it’s very fitting that we are gathered in the MTG Century Theatre, which is a harmonious blend of twentieth century architectural styles and one of the most distinctive buildings in the region.
Heritage buildings are important to all New Zealanders. They are living reminders of the people and events of our history, and are an essential part of our identity as communities and as a nation.
Heritage architecture is also an important contributor to the economy. It is the public face of our towns and cities, creating vibrant places that people want to live in and tourists want to visit. Napier is a prime example of this, with thousands of visitors flocking here each year to experience its unique and world-renowned art deco townscape.
The theme for this weekend, ‘Bringing heritage together in New Zealand’, is timely because in order for this sector to be effective, there need to be strong links between grass roots advocacy groups, owners of heritage properties, local government and Heritage New Zealand. Like strands of a rope, they are much stronger together.
Some fantastic things are underway in this sector at both the grass roots level and the Government level, and I think it’s worth mentioning a few highlights from the past year.
Two months ago in Wellington, the Prime Minister and Governor-General officially opened the Queen Elizabeth II Pukeahu Education Centre in the former Home of Compassion Crèche.
The structure was built in 1914 and was the first purpose-built crèche in the country. In 2014 the building was moved 15 metres from its original position near the Basin Reserve, and was identified as an ideal base for the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park education programme.
After being earthquake strengthened and having its exterior restored, this repurposed heritage building is now a vibrant education hub for New Zealand students to learn about civics, citizenship and our history of conflict and peacekeeping.
Over the past year the first Wahi Tupuna sites were registered under the new Heritage New Zealand legislation at Waitangi, Whakarewarewa and at the site of Toitu Tauraka Waka in Dunedin.
This is a new type of classification for places of strong traditional associations to Māori which formally identifies and acknowledges these ancestral connections, and allows the stories of these special places to be shared and celebrated.
I look forward to more Wahi Tupuna sites being identified and registered in the future.
As many of you will know, in August this year Minister Barry announced the launch of the Heritage Earthquake Upgrade Incentive Programme – perhaps better known as Heritage EQUIP.
We have always known that many New Zealand towns and cities are in a precarious situation straddling multiple fault lines – and the history of this region is a haunting reminder.
But it was devastating effects of the Canterbury earthquakes which really woke this country up in the most horrific way to the dangers of earthquake-prone buildings.
We have understood as a nation that unsafe buildings simply cannot continue to contain people until work is done to make them safe. This has put some types of heritage buildings throughout New Zealand in the spotlight.
In response to the earthquakes, Government undertook a major review of the earthquake-prone building provisions in the Building Act 2004. The resulting Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act 2016 requires the owners of earthquake-prone buildings to carry out strengthening work within set timeframes. This will come into force in early 2017.
During the first stage of the review, two key things became apparent: firstly, that the cost of strengthening heritage buildings is a major hurdle for private owners, and secondly, that it is hard for owners to find the information they need to make decisions about their buildings.
Heritage buildings have significant value to all New Zealanders, but it is the owners who bear the strengthening costs. Where these costs are prohibitive, there is a real risk we may lose some of our most significant heritage or it could be left indefinitely vacant. This could seriously impact regions where heritage buildings support the continued viability of towns, businesses and communities.
Because of the public value of our most significant built heritage, Government recognises that it has a role in supporting its retention for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
Government is investing $12 million over four years in Heritage EQUIP in the form of contestable grants supported by an information package.
The comprehensive, web-based information package will give clear guidance on the options available to heritage building owners, so they can make informed decisions.
Heritage EQUIP recognises that the Government cannot meet the full cost of strengthening – which is why it is designed as an incentive fund to help leverage support from a range of partners.
As with all heritage conservation projects it is vital that there is support from owners and the wider community, and the design of the fund is geared to help enshrine and leverage support at the local, regional and national levels.
Decisions on funding will be made by the Chief Executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, on the advice of an expert advisory panel. It will be a rigorous and transparent application process to ensure those most eligible are given the highest priority. The first funding round will be called for by the end of this year.
Heritage EQUIP is an initiative that celebrates and supports New Zealand’s unique built heritage, so future generations can enjoy heritage-rich environments as we and our forebears have done, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve through it.
It is important there are independent voices making the case for cultural heritage, as there is for natural heritage. Laws do not on their own save heritage buildings. There also needs to be a community appreciation of the importance of heritage, and political will to take action.
This is why volunteers are so valuable to the heritage sector. Through publications, lectures, awards ceremonies, public events, and their own expertise and enthusiasm, volunteers raise the profile of our heritage and build the collective community support that underpins the sector.
Historic Places Aotearoa and its constituent groups are a vitally important force for the heritage sector, and there are many fantastic examples of Historic Places groups working together with Heritage New Zealand to ensure the best outcomes for our nation’s heritage.
One local example is the work of Historic Places Hawke’s Bay on the Mokopeka Power Station, which is a Category One heritage building. The landowner has allowed the group access and they have established a local trust to look after and work on the restoration and maintenance of this site.
Heritage New Zealand supports this project through a National Heritage Preservation Incentive Fund grant, administered on behalf of the Crown, which was provided to cover the costs of preparing a conservation plan.
Another great example of volunteer work here in the Hawke’s Bay is Napier’s Art Deco Trust. For 30 years the Trust has been dedicated to the preservation, promotion and celebration of the Art Deco City of Napier.
Each year an estimated 25,000 people take an Art Deco Walk, many of which are guided walks led by the Trust's expert volunteer walk guides.
Hordes of visitors flock to Napier each February to enjoy the Tremains Art Deco Weekend, which wouldn’t be able to happen without the support of over 120 dedicated volunteers.
And of course many of our best-loved heritage properties around the country are managed by groups of dedicated volunteers, including the Dame Ngaio Marsh House in Christchurch and Katherine Mansfield’s Birthplace in Wellington.
A challenge for the heritage sector is not only maintaining this volunteer base but also recruiting volunteers from successive generations. We know it’s possible - we only have to look at the student volunteer army in Christchurch and the collaborative power of social media to see the potential for mobilising younger people.
Reform to the Resource Management Act is a key priority for the Government. The introduction of the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill represents the second phase of the Government’s resource management reform programme.
It comprises about 40 individual policy proposals aimed at delivering substantive improvements to the Resource Management Act. Hundreds of written submissions were received on the Bill and we expect to see some changes introduced in light of the valuable contributions made by submitters.
While many of the proposals in the Bill do not directly intersect with the heritage sector, they are likely to be of interest nonetheless.
Key changes include:
- the recognition of natural hazard risk management as a new matter of national importance, and changes to the consideration of natural hazards in subdivision consents;
- the introduction of two new plan making processes;
- and a suite of changes to consenting and notification processes.
The Ministry for the Environment is working with Heritage New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to ensure that parts of the Bill allow Heritage New Zealand to fulfill its roles.
The Bill includes many provisions to enable much needed urban development to occur. This has been achieved while keeping the requirement to protect historic heritage as a matter of national importance and recognising Heritage New Zealand’s important role in our environmental management system.
This question of managing population growth and urban development with heritage preservation is one of the biggest challenges facing the sector, and it’s an issue we all need to work together on.
I acknowledge there are sometimes difficulties juggling competing values. Government is interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas on these matters, and I hope you have some fruitful discussion at your facilitated workshop later this afternoon.
Winston Churchill once said “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
With this in mind, it’s important to consider both tangible and intangible value in any conversation about cultural heritage so that we are able to identify and protect our heritage places for present and future generations.
I know how much time, personal energy and expertise heritage projects demand, and I appreciate that many of you here today have worked to support, protect and raise awareness of New Zealand’s heritage for many years.
The energy and passion here at this conference is testimony to the commitment of Historic Places Aotearoa and the sector to identifying future directions, working together, sharing ideas, comparing notes on challenges and opportunities, exploring the links between organisations, and recognising common goal and needs.
The volunteers and groups which make up Historic Places Aotearoa are the lifeblood of our heritage sector. I hope you can continue to work together effectively with Heritage New Zealand, local councils and property owners to achieve the best outcomes for New Zealanders, so that future generations can appreciate our national heritage in the same way that we do now.
I wish you all a productive and rewarding weekend.
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