22 Aug 2016

DoC accused of neglecting historic building

From Checkpoint, 5:55 pm on 22 August 2016

Architects around the country are fighting to save a significant building in Te Urewera from the wrecker's ball.

The Institute of Architects said it was dismayed by the Department of Conservation (DoC)'s decision to demolish the Āniwaniwa Visitor Centre.

The building was designed by the late John Scott, who also designed the Futuna Chapel in Wellington, which is held up as one of the finest examples of modernist New Zealand architecture.

A spokesperson for the institute said the visitor centre next to Lake Waikaremoana was likewise an important piece of architecture.

The government was abdicating its responsibility to preserve the nation's heritage by allowing it to be demolished, the spokesperson said.

The centre was built in 1976 and was condemned as unsafe seven years ago because of leaks.

Hawke's Bay architect Graham Linwood said DoC could have saved the visitor centre if it had wanted to.

"For one, they've let the building deteriorate without doing any maintenance - buildings don't exist without maintenance.

"Whether it's been done on purpose, we would suggest that it has, or whether it's just the fact that it's been neglected and unloved."

The department believed it would cost $3 million to repair but it could be done for a tenth of that, he said.