Feeling reconnected with heritage

Logo of Reconnect Heritage EventsLast week I attended the Heritage Forum which was one of the events kicking off the Reconnect Heritage events weekend. There were a number of presentation that brought us up to date with heritage buildings and projects in Christchurch and Waimakariri.

Attendees found out about the progress of the digital earthquake archive Ceismic. This is a great source for anyone looking for first-hand earthquake stories, images and recollections in a variety of formats and from many sources, including Christchurch City Libraries. One (of many) collection of note is the digitised copies of The Press from September 2010 to February 2011 inclusive, plus 14 June 2011 and 22 February 2012.

It was great to hear how work is progressing on the Arts Centre. The project to restore the complex is going very well – keep up to date on their Tumblr page. I was fascinated to hear Brendan and Victoria’s presentation about the restoration of their heritage home in Lyttelton. They had just finished restoring their house when the first earthquake struck and following February and June had to go through the whole process again with additional bureaucracy.

View of ChristChurch CathedralChristchurch now has a unique opportunity to explore its archaeology and Underground Overground Archaeology are making the most of this. Fascinating tales revealed from clues left behind by Christchurch residents can be found on their blog – find out about hotels, life for children and the Canterbury Club, as well as many more. Quake City is Canterbury Museum‘s earthquake attraction, telling the story of the quakes through objects including the cross from the top of the cathedral spire and the Godley statue.

Next we heard about the status of some heritage buildings in the Waimakariri district. Focusing on Kaiapoi and Rangiora, we heard how many heritage buildings have been lost, such as Blackwells and the Rangiora Masonic Lodge, or are likely to go, such as Kaiapoi’s Bank of New Zealand. However, Waimakariri District Council’s Landmarks scheme is being developed to research and celebrate surviving and lost heritage buildings.

Lyttelton MuseumAfter their building was severely damaged in the February earthquake Lyttelton Museum had to salvage their entire collection, in collaboration with the Lyttelton Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Air Force Museum of NZ. This collection, and many others made homeless by the earthquakes, is now being taken care of at the Canterbury Cultural Collections Recovery Centre based at the Air Force Museum.

I had to leave before I could hear the presentation about post-quake Akaroa, but I really enjoyed hearing about what is being done to preserve the region’s built heritage, remember the earthquakes and uncover more about Christchurch’s past.

The future plans of the Christchurch Arts Centre

photo of the Christchurch Arts CentreOur blog has often commented on events at the Arts Centre as it was at the heart of much Christchurch cultural activity. Having it closed following the earthquakes was a huge blow to Christchurch people. Now it is being lovingly repaired and restored. Little milestones have started to appear – the old Registry building is now usable and the Arts festival Spiegel tent is currently pitched in the Market Square. You can follow the painstaking process on the the Arts Centre with their regular Tumblr postings.

Tiny treasures are uncovered, the stonework is repaired with beautiful creamy limestone blocks, heroic workmen literally scoop out tiny areas of foundation with buckets and shovels before they add steel reinforcing and so on. What we will get in the end is a lovely piece of Christchurch history that we can all enjoy again.

Many of us will have memories – maybe as a student when it was still Canterbury University, perhaps going to music or ballet classes, going to a movie or just hanging out – in a sunny quad, at the weekend market, over a coffee or a drink in a cafe and so on. One of my favourite memories is sitting on the grass in the Quad on a mild summer evening watching a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which starred the beautiful tree as the centrepiece of the staging. Magic. I’d love that to return.

Right now the Arts Centre trust is running a public consultation on its future plans. There is a draft vision and an online survey you can take. Why not help them formulate their plans – the centre was established for the citizens of Christchurch first and foremost.