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Historic buildings back on top form

August 2


Historic buildings back on top form

Two of the country’s oldest buildings are looking in mint condition once again after some TLC.

The Kerikeri Stone Store has been completely reroofed with cedar shingles, and the exterior of neighbouring Kemp House – New Zealand’s oldest building – repaired and repainted.

The work was carried out over May to July – the quietest time of the year for visitation for the two iconic heritage buildings – and cost approximately $290,000.

“We’re very pleased with the way the project has gone. It’s great to see two of our most important historic buildings now looking in such good form,” says NZ Historic Places Trust Project Supervisor Tony Pickard.

The Stone Store and Kemp House, part of the historic Kerikeri Mission Station in the Bay of Islands, are just two of the properties cared for by the NZHPT. In a programme of works which has taken over a year to plan, and several months to complete, essential repairs and maintenance has been carried out to both buildings, with the final elements of work being finished now as the scaffolding is lowered in stages.

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Caption: Kemp House and the adjacent Stone Store – match fit.
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The heritage significance of the buildings meant that work had to be carried out with particular care, and with great attention to detail.

As well as being reroofed, investigations and necessary repairs to gutters, windows, stonework and glazing have been carried out on the Stone Store. Ageing pipework was replaced between the two buildings and the fire protection, electrical safety and security systems have also been upgraded.

Work on Kemp House has addressed minor repairs, as well as minor structural issues such as ensuring the floor structure is stable, and more aesthetic tasks like repairing the verandah roof and repainting the exterior of the house.

“The level of care needed for repairs – such as re-fixing the hinges on the oldest door in New Zealand for example – comes with a fair amount of responsibility,” says Tony.

“We’re satisfied that the quality of work is of a very high standard as befitting the age and heritage status of these particular buildings.”

The team of heritage professionals and local building contractors devised a plan for the conservation work guided by the ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) New Zealand Charter.

Broadly, the Charter specifies that intervention should be the minimum necessary. It also specifies that the removal of fabric or the alteration of features and spaces that have cultural heritage should be avoided.

“Our objective was to carry out the repairs and maintenance necessary without compromising the heritage integrity of the buildings. We feel a real sense of responsibility for these buildings and we want to ensure that they survive for our children and future generations,” says Tony.

“We’ve been very careful to follow the highest standards of conservation practice, and we’re very happy with the result. The repair work on all these properties is difficult and detailed. As any owner of an older property will know, once you take off the cladding, or the roof, it is very likely that you will find something else which needs attention. This is particularly true in the Kerikeri Mission Station as the buildings are the oldest of their type in New Zealand.”

“This has been a very satisfying project – particularly in light of the situation with the Timeball in Lyttelton, for example, which is currently being dismantled by colleagues in the South Island following the disastrous February earthquake.”

According to Tony, the two Northland buildings are all the better for some ‘pre-match conditioning’, which has ensured that they are match fit for the expected influx of Rugby World Cup visitors to Northland.

“Two of New Zealand’s most important historic buildings are now looking great at a time when the country is about to be showcased around the world. We believe this will have a good spin-off for tourism in Northland and the Northland economy.”


Project details: Re-roof the Stone Store with cedar shingles; paint the exterior of neighbouring Kemp House; upgrade security, electrical and fire sprinkler systems; general conservation, maintenance and repairs.
Cost: $290,000
Timeframe to complete job: 10 weeks
Contractors: Henwoods (Kaikohe) for the re-roofing; Watson Builders (Ohaeawai) for repair work and maintenance at Kemp House.


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