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PM Re-opens Siogn Of The Takahe

Press release from Sign of the Takahe
26 October 2007

Prime Minister formally reopens Canterbury icon Sign of the Takahe

A red ribbon encircling an historic Christchurch building signaled the start of a new era for the Sign of the Takahe.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, officially opening the relaunch of the Sign of the Takahe’s restaurants and bars, praised the vision of city fathers who completed the castellated building as part of a series of rest stops for travellers in 1947, while acknowledging the work of current restaurant owners Pawan and Delia Kalia.

“It’s always a bonus when a beautiful heritage building has a contemporary use as this one has,” the Prime Minister told more than 200 guests gathered in the manicured English-style gardens.

“This is just one more sign of how the city takes its historic heritage.

“Congratulations to all involved for keeping it a living reminder of our past.”

On her first visit to the iconic building, the Prime Minister said she was “blown away by the standard of the building.”

Christchurch City Council Deputy Mayor Norm Withers, welcoming the Prime Minister on his first official duty, described the Sign of the Takahe as “a Christchurch gem, with its unsurpassed views of the city, the Canterbury Plains, and the Southern Alps.”

Pawan Kalia said Christchurch was home to excellence, as was the Sign of the Takahe.

“We play our part, showcasing the very best of what this proud region has to offer, in terms of outstanding regional produce prepared to the exacting standards of European style trained chefs,” he said.

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“The Sign of the Takahe building looks pretty much the same as it did 60 years ago, but what it offers to the local community has changed over the years. From a tram stop, humble tea-rooms, a top dining establishment, and now a fully integrated bar, restaurant, café and events centre, it has focussed on providing a meeting place, a home from home, and a venue for outstanding food, wine and events for the Christchurch community.

“As we enter a new era for Sign of the Takahe, we take our inspiration from those early pioneers. This building was constructed using stone and wood, from this area, hand carved by skilled experts, on this very site.

“Our menu likewise, is constructed using the very best of food and wine, from this area, hand crafted by skilled experts, on this very site.”

Hollie Smith, star of the recent New Zealand Music Awards, performed for the ‘who’s who’ of Canterbury, and celebrity faces including Matthew Ridge, Jason Gunn and Mark Hadlow.

Sign of the Takahe, an overview
Located high on the Cashmere Hills with unsurpassed views over Christchurch City, the Canterbury Plains and out to the Southern Alps beyond, Sign of the Takahe is an historic building of national significance.

Planned by Harry (H.G.) Ell as the major building of a series of staging points along an unbroken route to the Akaroa Summit, it was designed along classical European lines to be built from local New Zealand materials.

The first stone was laid by 1908 but, following an extraordinary string of events, the building didn’t open until 1949 two years after the Christchurch City Council took control.

It has a totally unique two-storeyed asymmetrical plan encompassing entirely different architectural styles. The northwest façade, which overlooks the Canterbury Plains, is reminiscent of a gothic style English Manor House of the 14th century while the southwest corner features a 17th century style baroque three storeyed crenellated tower. The eastern aspect is in the style of a Dickensian Inn from the late 18th century England.

The interior is magnificent with gothic arches, huge Kauri beams, massive fireplaces and intricate wood and stone carving. The three dining rooms have long been established heritage venues for functions and fine dining.

Sign of the Takahe Signature Restaurant
Inspired by the astonishing attention to detail, skill and craft of those who built Sign of the Takahe, dining in the restaurant reflects the spirit of those early pioneers by bringing classical European technique and style to uniquely New Zealand produce. A new chef, new menu and a new direction marks the Sign of the Takahe Signature restaurant which is dedicated to maintaining the highest international standards of hospitality and culinary excellence.

Soh Bar and Cafe©
Fully refurbished in 2007, the ground level of Sign of the Takahe has been reopened in casual style offering a relaxed meeting place for mostly local people. Soh is a seven day a week drop in bar and café within an iconic venue. It has been particularly designed to welcome local Cashmere and Christchurch people back into their building.
The Sign of the Takahe remains the property of the people of Christchurch through the City Council. Restaurant owners are Pawan and Delia Kalia who purchased the lease in January 2004. The pair is committed to delivering a dining experience that has its heart in the community of Cashmere while welcoming visitors from around the world.

Just 10 minutes drive into the hills from Christchurch city, SOH Bar and Cafe is open 7 days per week from 8am to 11pm, Sign of the Takahe Signature Restaurant is open 6pm to 11pm Tuesday through Saturday evenings.


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