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Otago landmarks get formal recognition

8 December 2008


Otago landmarks get formal recognition

With more than 500 submissions supporting its heritage recognition, Tokomairiro Church in Milton has been afforded Category I registration status by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT).

The NZHPT Board also approved Category II status on the King Edward Picture Theatre (Mayfair Theatre) in South Dunedin at its meeting in Wellington on 5 December.

Owen Graham, NZHPT Otago/Southland area manager, said both landmarks had considerable heritage value and their registration underlined how important they each are to the Otago region and Dunedin City.

Tokomairiro Church received a record 505 submissions, with all but one supporting registration.

“In cricketing terms 504-1 is a pretty convincing total,” Mr Graham said. “And it’s the same in heritage terms.”

“The response from the Milton, and surrounding, community in wanting to formally recognise Tokomairiro Church was phenomenal. People identify with a place or building. They may not be directly associated with it but they have a real connection to it.

“This is great news also for the Presbyterian Synod Heritage Committee which has been a strong advocate for registration.”

Tokomairiro Church, built in 1889, was designed by architect Robert Arthur Lawson whose work includes Dunedin landmarks the Municipal Chambers and First Presbyterian Church.

The King Edward Picture Theatre was opened in 1914 and is the oldest surviving purpose-built theatre in Dunedin. It is still used as a live theatre venue.

“Dunedin prides itself on its culture, but unfortunately it has already lost the likes of The Arcade Picture Palace, The Octagon, The Plaza in George Street and The Queens (later the Odeon and Embassy),” Mr Graham said.

“Given the history and prominence of this South Dunedin landmark it is appropriate its heritage value has been recognised. The former King Edward Picture Theatre is significant as one of the oldest and comparatively rare surviving examples of a large city suburban theatre.”

Mr Graham said NZHPT would welcome a move by the Dunedin City Council to widen their district plan listing of the façade to include the entire external building envelope and interior of the theatre.




NZHPT is New Zealand’s lead heritage agency and, on behalf of New Zealanders, identifies, protects and preserves historic places. One aspect of this is working closely with local authorities and property owners to explore options for reusing historic places in place of demolishing them.

Registering historic places

Registration is the inclusion on the Register of a place or area that considered part of New Zealand’s historical and cultural heritage. Places may be included on the register if they possess aesthetic, archaeological, architectural, cultural, historic, scientific, social, spiritual, technological or traditional qualities. Under the Historic Places Act, places with “special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value” may be accorded the highest ranking of Category I status.

Unfortunately, the registration process provides no protection to Category I and II historic places. Protection comes about when local authorities take the lead in protecting their local historic places by listing them in their district plans.

© Scoop Media

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