Sunday, March 6, 2011

Considering matters of heritage at Auckland's Local Board level

Right now, the new Auckland Council would like submissions on the draft annual plans submitted by the 21 Local Boards, towards this year's Auckland Plan. I've been wondering whether I should put in a submission on my local Board's plan, that of Whau, on the subject of heritage.

Sitting here, I decided to undertake a possibly unscientific study/test of all 21 draft plans submitted by the Boards, as published on the Auckland Council website here.

The way the test was undertaken was that, in opening the files in my .pdf viewer, I clicked on the binoculars icon for keyword search in each document, and looked for "heritage" (without the quote marks.)

Here are the results.


3 references to heritage found:
• Compiling a list of built heritage features in the area
• Planning for a Bungalow Festival
• Undergrounding, curbing & resurfacing King Edward Ave & Burnley Tce


3 references to heritage found:
• Acknowledging the challenge of retaining both natural and built heritage in the area
• Intends to oversee implementation of the North Shore Heritage Strategy
• Supports Devonport’s heritage character


1 reference to heritage found:
• Focus on retaining the area’s heritage sites

Great Barrier

No references to heritage found.


No references to heritage found.

Hibiscus & Bays

No references to heritage found.


1 reference to heritage found.
“We will work with local heritage experts to develop a heritage strategy.”


4 references to heritage found, including as a main heading.

• Area has a rich history
• Natural heritage
• Established heritage environment
• Main heading: Council’s Historic Heritage Strategy, Chelsea Sugar Works strategy


1 reference to heritage found.
• “Mangere-Otahuhu has a rich historic and cultural heritage”


No references to heritage found.


1 reference to heritage found.
• Natural & physical heritage


1 reference to heritage found.
• “Work to better balance the protection of our heritage with the need to safeguard private property rights. The costs of heritage controls need to be recognised and reflected.”


2 references to heritage found:
• Develop an Otara-Papatoetoe heritage trail
• Establish a museum facility in Papatoetoe


1 reference to heritage found.
• Promoting heritage


No references to heritage found.


No references to heritage found.

Upper Harbour

No references to heritage found.


No references to heritage found.

Waitakere Ranges
4 references to heritage found:
• All to do with Waitakere Ranges Heritage Protection Act


1 reference to heritage found.
• Protect both heritage and character housing


1 reference to heritage found.
• Heritage protection

I'm not going to rate these, although, as someone associated with historical societies, I must say Howick's entry was most welcome to see. They were the only ones who referred to "local heritage experts". None of the others did, yet the region is almost completely covered by historical societies and groups, each with specialised knowledge of their area. I'm not sure exactly what my local board, Whau, mean by "heritage protection", but as a phrase it probably covers enough to get by.

To be absolutely fair on those Boards who don't refer to heritage at all, let's take a look at the "Our Region" document, included in the full draft plan.

Our Region
14 references to heritage found (at least)
• Protecting geological features, landscapes, historic buildings, and cultural heritage.
• Maintaining regional cultural heritage database
• Parks Recreation and Heritage Forum
• Digitising heritage collections in libraries
• Auckland City’s Museums and art galleries, and their role in helping to celebrate the diversity of our cultural heritage. Art Gallery building is heritage-listed. By Museums, they refer to MOTAT, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Voyager NZ Maritime Museum and the Stardome Observatory.
• Parks, and “significant heritage features”, along with “heritage protection activity”.
• Planning & Policy: protection of natural and built heritage.
• Environmental management: protection of natural and built heritage
• Environmental Strategy: Tying in cultural heritage with conservation programmes
• Coastal management: protection of heritage features
• Main heading - Heritage Protection: working with heritage authorities and local iwi on a regional cultural heritage database, heritage outcomes under the Resource Management Act and existing district plans, surveying for cultural heritage sites, raising public awareness through talks, trails, signage etc. They intend, among other aims to “work in partnership with the regional community”.
• Waterfront Auckland: reference to cultural heritage, and a heritage tram service
• Regional Facilities Auckland: cultural heritage mentioned
• Libraries: digitisation and preservation of heritage items

So, overall, I can't really say that heritage has been left out in the cold. While finding it in the headings is a bit of a challenge, with various facets spread throughout the document, at least references are there, and they look promising. It would have been better, though, for more of the local boards to have recognised the large number of historical societies around who are keen to work in with them to help their areas, and the region, preserve our heritage.


  1. Interesting indeed Lisa. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Heritage is such a big word. It encompasses so many things and one persons view of heritage is not another's. Buildings are a good place to start though but streetscapes are very neglected in Australia at least.

  3. Thanks, Liz.

    I agree, Andrew. Heritage is a broad beast of a term, and yes, streetscapes can be undervalued here, as well as totally procted in pockets of interest (Renall Street in Ponsonby is an example).

    I'm glad I did the exercise. It's at least given me a better view, through all the pages (well over 200!) just where heritage stands at this point in time with the new territorial authority as a whole. It's up to historical societies and groups, we plucky volunteers, to keep our oar in and pipe up when needed.

  4. Hi Lisa. Just discovered your blog. I've recently been given the Heritage portfolio on the Puketapapa Board.

    You're right about our Board not having anything in the Plan - mainly because the plans have been a rushed affair, largely building on existing work-streams. We're hoping to change that in the near future, and we will be setting up a local Heritage Forum of people with knowledge of the area to guide us. Will be in touch with you about that shortly.

    Michael Wood.

  5. Hi Michael,

    Thanks very much for commenting! I'm heartened to hear about your plans for a local Heritage Forum -- wonderful news! Let me know when the the times comes if I can be of any help. Cheers!

  6. Hi Lisa, I'd argue that Albert-Eden Local Board is doing good work. You'll see that in the second sentence of our direction statement in the Annual Agreement, we undertake to "protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage features and retain significant built heritage." There is also a section on our three volcanic cones, as well as the items you list.
    We'd *love* to spend more on heritage, but the new Council is digging itself out of a $60m+ hole just to keep rates below 5%, so there's not much any of us will be able to do that requires new spending this year.
    BTW, members of the Art Deco Society, amongst others, are keen to be involved in planning the Bungalow & Art Deco Festival. It's not just about celebrating those architectural styles that are particularly prominent in our area, but about raising awareness of them so that we don't suffer anymore Turua streets!
    Cheers Peter Haynes

  7. Hi Peter,

    Albert-Eden included three references to heritage, which is fairly good. You sound concerned that your board was included on a list like this -- but I included all the boards, across the region, regardless of the survey results.

    Some things, though. Hopefully your bungalow festival does not focus solely or even mostly on Mt Albert -- Pt Chevalier and Waterview have their share as well. Raising awareness with a festival is one thing -- but some robust research uncovering the story behind built items you'd like to see kept matters most when it comes to real protection. For that, though, you'll need a budget.

    I attended the Puketapapa Local Board's Heritage Forum last night, and was quite impressed. Any plans for something like that in your area, seeing as you have four resident historical societies? Puketapapa have none, but instead can call on some very enthusiastic heritage-minded folk. Great to see.

  8. Hi, Thanks. I was just adding a bit of context, to allow a balanced assessment of what is "good". Some board's went for broke in drafting their annual agreements; my board adopted a more realistic approach given the severe funding constraints.

    The Bungalow Festival partly aims to be "identity building" as it focuses on one thing that binds together our whole area. There are bungalows in Sandringham (Calgary Rd deserves to be a heritage street in my view), Morningside, Kingsland, Mt Eden, Balmoral (I live in one myself), Epsom, and Epsom South, as well as the areas you mention.

    The idea for the festival arises from a sojourn in Pasadena a couple of years ago, BTW. Anybody interested in built heritage passing through L.A. should look at "Bungalow Heaven" there.

    We will be looking at a heritage forum or similar soon. At the moment I'm putting together our Sustainable Albert-Eden Advisory Board. Bungalow Festival next. Then...

  9. Thanks for that. Your board is so far really doing well, Peter. It's your board's activities (and now those of Puketapapa) which I point to when saying to the Whau Board, "Well? About that heritage thing? Look what's happening over there ..."

    It is early days, though, and still a transition period, so folks can't expect everything to be happening all at once. I'm just keeping an eye on how things progress.