It’s long overdue for some restraints on the Historic Places outfit, currently travelling under the Heritage NZ monicker. Why incoming governments constantly change departments and agencies names is a mystery, never more so than with the current hopeless lot by a country mile, the worst government in our post-war history. Re-branding departments and agencies in maori, a language almost no-one speaks, was infantile.
But back to Heritage NZ.
This outfit is completely out of hand, slapping listings willy-nilly on to date, over 6,000 buildings, often on the most absurd grounds. Thus our city landscapes are marred by ageing houses of no meaningful significance, often rotting away amidst modern structures.
Their latest nonsense is listing a non-descript old two level dunger in the Wanganui CBD. And why? Because a century back, the town’s then mayor, fired a shot at a journalist outside the building for threatening to expose him as a homosexual, then a serious crime.
This is ludicrous. If he’d shot at him say on the riverbank, would the Historic Places mob erect a plaque on a pole there recording the assault? Probably.
Apparently, this is part of a Heritage project to recognise, God knows why, sites of significance to the homosexual community. On that rationale, perhaps a plaque on the state house I grew up in, recording it the home of the first political leader to call for homosexual law reform, which the NZ Party did in line with its libertarian philosophy in 1984.
The problem with agencies such as the Heritage outfit is they quickly run out of a raison d’être and become creative and inadvertently destructive to progress.
Currently here and abroad I own 6 listed office buildings. For aesthetic reasons I’m not unhappy with those but none have historic significance.
The worst example of this nonsense I ever experienced was buying a very large office building under construction four decades back, in Sydney’s Martin Place. The day it was completed the Aussie historic places outfit promptly listed it, despite being a day old.
The American’s have it right. To restrain their historic places outfit from excessive zealotry, any existing structures they decide to list must have their re-development site value potential assessed and they must pay that sum to the owner.
American cities are full of beautiful old listed buildings (I’ve owned two in respectively Honolulu and New York) so it doesn’t restrain meaningful heritage. But conversely it doesn’t see their cities marred by old cottages littering their CBDs, of no unique or aesthetic significance, as is the case in New Zealand.