It is an honour and a privilege to formally welcome you here this evening.
This is the first formal occasion I have had to acknowledge the significance of the New Zealand Honour bestowed on Dame Anna Crighton as Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to heritage preservation and governance.
This was long overdue recognition not only for Dame Anna, but also for heritage preservation.
It is such a powerful statement of the importance of what we are here tonight to celebrate.
Although many heritage sites are in public hands, most heritage sites are in private hands, and I would like to acknowledge the great debt of gratitude, which we as a city owe to those private owners who retained, maintained, repaired and took steps to earthquake-strengthen their heritage buildings.
Reading through the list of 30 finalists and knowing that almost as many again were entered, gave me great heart.
We have just finished hearing submissions on our long term plan, and we heard from our residents a strong commitment to heritage, with real support coming through for a targeted rate that enables us to call out that commitment in its own right, and to offer support to heritage sites we don’t technically own such as the Arts Centre.
I mention that because it is a shame at the time institutional arrangements change, decisions are left to a few good and worthy citizens to intervene before the bulldozers come in and act collectively to protect important aspects of our identity. The Isaac Theatre Royal is one such example and the Arts Centre is another.
In terms of the council’s buildings that are finalists tonight, I was honoured to be part of re-opening the Rose Chapel, the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel and the Christchurch Town Hall.
Talking to people about their memories and experiences, that’s what brings them to life all over again.
I am looking forward to the re-opening with one that I hope is a future contender, the Thomas Edmond Band Rotunda. I am at once thinking of concerts on the banks of the river once more.
It will be longer to wait for the Old Municipal Chambers, but I know that our faith in tonight’s sponsors Box 112 will be confirmed when it does. Enjoying the renewed Midland Building, the Public Trust Building and the Muse Art Hotel along with the developments down the south end of town, is the promise of what is to come.
That leaves the Provincial Council Chamber and what is a nationally significant category one building – being the last remaining provincial building in New Zealand. I have hope that its national significance will find expression in the not too distant future, and in the meantime we will continue to care for it as we have done since the earthquakes.
Finally, I want to make comment about the future heritage category.
When I spoke of our other heritage buildings, I spoke of the stories they tell of their time and the memories that we have each created as we have experienced the buildings throughout our lives.
I know Turanga deserves to be a finalist, because I know its design gave expression to the ideas of its present-day users, which is a story around the essence of placemaking that must be the legacy of our experience.
I have heard people of all ages and stages of life speak about what it means to them.
It is very much their place.
So thank you Dame Anna. And thank you all for being here as we celebrate the past, the present and the future of our place, Otautahi, Christchurch.