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.


All driven by bureaucrats’ desire for power, and continued employment..

Given heritage is probably seen as a public good, and the public purse is now empty, I wonder whether these buildings could be exempted from paying tax or rates as a more feasible option; on the basis they are appropriately maintained?

Reminds me of all the other departments , charged with certain tasks, that then set about creating new concerns to be worried about guarantee their tenure for decades to come. LTSA is one that comes to mind after Japanese Car imports became a thing. First it was to ensure that seats belts were up to code. Replacement needed if the tag didn’t have the correct codes. The Japanese belts and mechanism being superior to what was being fitted in NZ, required replacement, not becasue they were inferior or faulty, but becasue they didn’t have the same code numbers on the tags as NZ belts. LTSA was not concerned that NZ belts were not compatible with Japanese fitted Air bag systems, which in most cases were disabled so NZ belts could be fitted. Then when the seat belt issue was fixed they looked for other areas they could be concerned about, like replacing brake linings and pads and rotors if under a certain thickness, then not allowing cars to be imported if they had even small impact dents in the chassis rails, while NZ new cars could be flood damaged, burnt, and written off, rebuilt and resold without any notification on reg papers. NZ needs a clean out of all money wasting departments that look for things to be concerned about, to guarantee bums on seats going forward. Then you get heads of departments that are paid depending on how many staff they Manage. Is it surprising they spend all their walking hours increasing staff numbers to guarantee increased salaries . ? Maybe the public service needs to be cleaned out.

So, can’t that Historic Places Trust listing recommendation be removed? Otherwise, they’d surely have to come to the party for owners in financing the upkeep of the building to some designated standard? Nonsense and sentimentality get in the way of progress sometimes and it’s painful to watch.

Or change the law so that only 50 structures (and no areas) can be listed in each local government district. A new one could be added only if one is taken off. Having to make choices would rein in the heritage people immediately.

I’ve just spent three wonderful days visiting my son who runs a research lab at Brown University in Providence RI.

As we walked around the downtown looking at the various buildings, I asked him what is that beautiful tower and why doesn’t it have any lights on? He said “oh that’s the Superman building but it is empty”. This seemed odd to me as it was the tallest and most impressive building in the entire city and I thought it would be ideal for apartments. So I googled Superman building and discovered that this 1928 architectural gem has been empty for a decade while its limestone facade deteriorates and the State and Federal government officials debate on how much taxpayer money they should spend to save it.

The current estimate of $220 million to redevelop it may simply be uneconomic and the most iconic building in Rhode Island may succumb to the wrecking ball.

I’m not privy to the background details but something doesn’t seem right with this picture.

Anyway we continued our walk. I stopped at a street corner to give a black man some money as he offered me his cup for donation. Not a lot because I don’t carry much cash, but I felt genuinely compassionate towards him. We continued our walk only to come across a sticker on a wall stating that white supremacy was the virus.

I’m white, confused and don’t feel supreme. But I do feel compassion for others less fortunate.

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