Heritage lost

A NZ Herald article on Aucklander’s concern over vanishing heritage structures has jolted me to mention my concern over one specific heritage aspect in Auckland province (i.e. entire urban Auckland area).

As part of the ‘upgrade’ of Auckland’s urban passenger rail services, Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) – a wholly owned subsidiary of Auckland Regional Council – has been steadily rebuilding rail stations and pedestrian overbridges in the region.

Sadly, in doing so, the blinkered town planners & architects have been either removing the existing heritage buildings & bridges, or been destroying them. Recent examples include the removal of the 2-storey wooden signal box and bungalow style station building from Newmarket so a new, (supposedly) improved station layout could be built. Similarly, a (genuinely) better* pedestrian overbridge at Middlemore station in north Papatoetoe saw ARTA remove the old and still-strong and safe wooden overbridge.

Historic Middlemore rail station overbridge (removed, 2008)

Heritage structures – the anchor that links our waka to the land – are being treated with contempt because it is faster & cheaper to destroy the diverse buildings than to restore them. What an embarrassing lack of intelligence from ARTA, ARC and the half-wit contractors…

Far too many Kiwis ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at overseas heritage buildings and landscapes, without putting 2 and 2 together, and realising to get historic visitor attractions you have to actually preserve them from the knuckle-draggers with chainsaws and diggers.

P.S. I heard Wellington rail network also had a footbridge removed a week ago. The march of the mindless concrete contractors continues.

* Though better because it includes a disabled lift, the new Middlemore footbridge is uglier (subjectively), but also illustrates the idiocy of the ‘planners’ involved. Despite the obvious possibility of linking Middlemore hospital to one of their new multi-storey carparks across the tracks and over a small adjacent sideroad, the planners did not see fit to talk the Counties District Health Board into extending the overhead bridge so people could walk directly from carpark to station to hospital. A small 20m extension either side. Talk about short-sighted!

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