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Historic 'signalman's house' for lease

Historic 'signalman's house' for lease

North Shore City could soon have its first literary centre - if a proposal by the Michael King Writers' Studio Trust is accepted.

The trust wants to take over the lease of what is known as the 'signalman's house' on the slopes of Mount Victoria in Devonport.

The historic house would be used by a writer in residence, visiting writers and for workshops, mentoring sessions and literary events. A national writers' museum would also be developed, and a resident manager appointed.

Mayor George Wood says he would be delighted to see the first centre of its kind in New Zealand established in North Shore City.

"With our rich literary history it is the perfect location. Other writers in our area would get immense benefit from it, and it would mean that exhibits and biographies of North Shore writers - past and present - could be permanently displayed," he says.

"We do have a very strong community arts focus in our city, and this development in the literary arts will complement what we're already doing with performing and visual arts."

Initially the Michael King Writers' Studio Trust wanted to buy a property behind Frank Sargeson's house on Esmonde Rd. Since that was unsuccessful, North Shore City Council has been working to help it find alternative premises.

However, the council needs to apply to the Minister of Conservation for approval to reclassify the property from recreation reserve to local purpose, or community use.

The 'signalman's house' was built in 1842 for Lieutenant Snow, the then signalman whose job it was to advise of ships arriving which bought news and letters from overseas.

People are invited to make written submissions on the Michael King Writers' Studio Trust's proposal to take over the lease of the 'signalman's house' until December 6. Other groups are also welcome to express their interest.

Note to editors: Chairperson of the Michael King Writers' Studio Trust is Gordon McLauchlan, who can be contacted on 366 3055 or 021 623 844. Other members include Helen Woodhouse, Wensley Willcox, Peter Bartlett, Christine Cole-Catley, Dinah Holman, Witi Ihimaera, James Mason and Geoff Walker.

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