Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

South Auckland community fight to keep heritage building open

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

The Nathan Homestead was built in the 1920s and at one stage was a council administration building. Photo: Abigail Dougherty/Stuff
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Local Democracy Reporting | Free Public Interest News Service

Residents of a South Auckland community say the council has rushed a move to temporarily close a “popular community hub” this year.

The Nathan Homestead, a heritage building in Manurewa, is expected to close for more than a year from July as it undergoes seismic strengthening.

Manurewa residents have continuously voiced their concern over the closure of the homestead, most recently at the Manurewa Local Board’s first business meeting of the year on Thursday.

More than 20 people attended the meeting to support keeping the homestead open.

The homestead was used for arts and community events, including pottery, exhibitions, visual arts classes, jewellery making, and a cafe.

Hill House Cafe, in a recent social media post, said they were informed of the closure late last month, “catching us off guard despite prior assurances of a comprehensive plan”.

Co-owner Peter Matvos told the local board he thought the decision to close was rushed.

“I urge you to think about what you’re doing,” he said.

The cafe opened right before the first Covid-19 lockdown, and helped keep the community connected during the pandemic, he said.

“Our business is a community … this is a community cafe.“

Another resident who spoke questioned the decision to close the homestead.

“It’s just too quick. Look at what we have, it’s far more important than just a building.”

Last August, council agreed to a forward budget that included a $6.3 million programme of work to undertake earthquake protection for the landmark building.

The Nathan Homestead was built in the 1920s, and was once used as council administration buildings before being developed into a a community and cultural centre.

Under the Auckland Unitary Plan, the homestead is deemed category A: a significant historic heritage place.

It was identified as as “potentially earthquake prone” due to its age and construction.

Auckland Council parks and community facilities general manager Taryn Crewe said it was required by law to make the building safe, in the event of an earthquake.

Crewe said Hill House Cafe’s license to operate at Nathan Homestead would expire in June, and won’t be renewed so work could get underway.

“We understand the impact this may have on the cafe owners and staff, and the inconvenience the temporary closure of Nathan Homestead and the cafe will have for some people.

“Council has managed to relocate most services to other facilities in close proximity to minimise disruption.”

Manurewa Local Board chairperson Glenn Murphy said they supported the seismic work, as the homestead was approaching its centennial year.

He said seismic funding was included in the Long-Term Plan, which is open for consultation from February 28 to March 28.

“Anyone with concerns can raise them through that process,” Murphy said.

“Nathan Homestead is one of the most valuable historical heritage assets in Manurewa and is a much-loved landmark that has been at the heart of community life for many years.”

Local democracy reporting

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