City Councillors, Community Board representatives
The Summit Road Society, including John Goodrich and Paula Jameson (great-granddaughter of Harry Ell)
Janice Thornton (tenant of the Sign of the Kiwi)
The whole team who worked on this restoration
Distinguished guests one and all,
I am delighted to be here to today to join you all in celebrating the reopening of the Sign of the Kiwi and to pay tribute to the people who have made this happen.
In June this year the building will be a century old, a tribute to Harry Ell, who was the driving force behind the Summit Road and the rest-houses, of which the Sign of the Kiwi was the third after the Sign of the Bellbird and the Sign of the Packhorse; architect Samuel Hurst Seagar, whose interest in vernacular domestic architecture insisted on it blending with the surrounding environment and not disrupting the panorama of the hills; and Charles Calvert, who not only built it, but also advanced much of the money required for the build.
I hadn’t realised that the Sign of the Kiwi was a tollgate to assist with the costs of constructing the Summit Road and the stone section of the original tollgate forms part of its Category 1 historic place listing, which was obtained in 1989. It was interesting to note that the Heathcote County Council forced Harry to shut down the tollgate in 1932 but the Halswell County Council let him establish a new one in their county.
WWII was not kind to the Sign of the Kiwi, when it fell into disuse, and was closed by the Department of Lands & Survey in 1940. It transferred to the CCC after 1948 and used as custodian’s house. In 1989 the council began restoring it to its former glory and it once again operated as a tearooms and information centre – until the earthquakes struck.
So that’s the history. And now it’s my role to thank the team behind what has been a wonderful restoration project. We have lost so much as a city that every such restoration means a lot to us all, and to have played a role in this project, must give each and every one of you a real sense of pride.
A big team at the City Council must be thanked. here are too many to name them all, but I did want to single out Richie Moyle - CCC Programme Manager – Heritage Rebuild, John Radburn, Project Director and Mike Suttill – Senior Project Manager.
And I will acknowledge everyone in the Council Heritage, Regional Parks and the Project Management teams who have supported this project and thank you for your efforts.
Can I also thank: Conservation Architects Tony Ussher and William Fulton, Ian Domigan, Senior Engineer, Jet Li, Engineer, Sarah Harding, Engineering Geologist, Carol Caldwell, Fire Engineer and Stuart Pearson, Electrical Engineer
I would also like to thank Cook Brothers: Grant Harris, Regional Manager, Tony Morley, Project Manager, Michael Mathieson, Site manager and Ross Mosley, Quantity Surveyor and all their contractors: Dunn’s Stonemasonery, Caltec Electrical & AV Ltd, Clyne & Bennie Plumbing, Bromley Steel and The Stone Company.
And finally I would like to thank Canterbury Roofing Contracting; McTavish Decorators and last but not least, the painters, Subby solutions and Superior Painters. You have all done a great job.
Seager once said “It is not necessary that we should build grandly or expensively in order to attain that wished-for harmony between Nature and Art. It is only necessary that we should build simply and truthfully…”
The Sign of the Kiwi embodies these ideals and remains a beautiful example of New Zealand architecture, so special to us all.