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War Memorial Gates claim described as “nonsense”

New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga

War Memorial Gates claim described as “nonsense”

10 January 2008

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust has denounced as “nonsense” claims made by the Mawhera Incorporation that the removal of Greymouth’s War Memorial pillars was necessitated by NZHPT moves to list them.

The country’s leading heritage agency also refutes reports carried in the media, and as indicated by Mawhera, that NZHPT had planned a special meeting this week to register the memorial gates.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust General Manager Southern Region Malcolm Duff said he was extremely disappointed to see such excuses offered by Mawhera chair Maika Mason in Christchurch’s The Press newspaper this morning.

“We are absolutely appalled that Mawhera is using the issue of the gates being proposed for registration as an excuse to remove them. This demonstrates a very poor understanding of the Register and its implications.”

The NZHPT Register of historic places identifies and tells the stories about New Zealand’s most significant and valued heritage places. Its size and national focus make the Register one of the most important historical information resources in New Zealand.

Mr Duff said the Register does not afford automatic protection; rather it is an information and advocacy tool. In many cases the significance of the places registered leads to the heritage property being scheduled for protection under the District Plan and the RMA; however this is not a foregone conclusion.

Being registered with NZHPT does not directly create regulatory consequences or legal obligations on property owners, nor does it create specific rights or control over property.

Protection of historic places is afforded through the schedules of the District Plans which are administered by local authorities. Once included in a schedule, Local authorities are required to notify the NZHPT if a project information memorandum (PIM) or building consent application is received for a registered property. This allows the NZHPT to offer conservation advice to property owners and advocate for the retention of heritage values. Registration should also be noted on relevant land information memorandum (LIM) for the property.

The NZHPT has been working to register the Gates at Greymouth as a Category II Historic Place; this has involved research and consultation with key stakeholders, including Mawhera Incorporation which had been provided with details of what Registration entails and also a draft of the registration report to seek their views.

In accordance with international best practice and the New Zealand ICOMOS Charter heritage items such as these gates should be maintained in their location and context and NZHPT believes it would have been possible to maintain these gates in their location on the boundary of the site within the landscaping design. The gates provide a link with the former school – the first state school in Greymouth – and its pupils who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom that all New Zealanders enjoy today.

“The action of removing the gates illustrates the vulnerability of New Zealand’s heritage in circumstances where items are not scheduled in District Plans and consequently given some protection. This case illustrates the need for Councils to have clear policies for heritage in their District Plans AND that their inventories or schedules of heritage places should be as comprehensive as possible,” said Mr Duff.


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