Public opinion varies when it comes to heritage buildings and places. It always has. We only need to read letters to The Press, comments on heritage and news articles to determine that heritage means different things to different people.
Heritage values can be assessed as archaeological, architectural, cultural, scientific, social, spiritual, technological and/or traditional. Post-earthquakes the community’s spirit is weary but empty buildings, vacant spaces and hurried replacements that are out-of-character with an area and will impact on how communities see themselves and are perceived by others. The on-going conflict between heritage protection and development pressures has been exacerbated and continued post-earthquake.
Why is history and heritage and our buildings so important to us as a community?
Buildings are tangible milestones of our journey as a culture.
History, through our buildings, tells the story of our city’s past and progress. Of our settlers of many origins, and of the homes, businesses and places they built and created here.
Canterbury’s landscape is rich in historic places that are inseparable from our local and national cultural identities. Historic places, wahi tapu, and the places of significance to our many peoples help us to remember, to learn, to belong and to share our stories with others.
Built heritage provides inspiration for artistic creativity, a foundation for tourism and economic development and a welcome for return travellers – how we feel when we come home from overseas to the comfort of known landmarks, and they become a beacon for who we are as New Zealanders.
Our heritage places are sentinels of living memory; and unlike the heritage of foreign soils, their uniqueness lies in the immediacy of the connection between us as descendants, and our ancestors. Disconnection from our past can give rise to a profound sense of dislocation. The question of identity can be raised and this relates right back to the stories that can be told. The enlightenment of the past through stories is a source of liberation.
The Canterbury Heritage Awards afford the opportunity to recognise heritage in all its forms and to tell the stories so important to us as a community and a culture.