The restoration of ‘Bach 38’ in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf shares an Honourable Mention in this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards with large projects including a palace in India, a performing arts centre in Hong Kong and a canal community in Thailand.
The wooden bach was built in 1928 for the first caretaker appointed in 1911, Mr Pooley, on his retirement. It took four years to restore and gives visitors a glimpse of bach holidays from the 1930s to the 1960s.
“Volunteers carried out this labour of love under the guidance of conservation architects and professional builders. It is an enormous honour to have the value of our work internationally recognised,” says Susan Yoffe of the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust.
UNESCO received 45 entries from 13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The top awards of Excellence went to Herat Old City in Afghanistan, and Stadium Merdeka in Malaysia.
The judges commented the restoration of the bach had conserved “a unique historic building typology… The community grassroots effort in accomplishing the project is to be praised”.
Susan Yoffe says the award puts the unassuming kiwi bach on the world stage and recognises the importance of bach settlements in New Zealand’s architectural and social history.
“Bach communities represented the kiwi values of independence and self-reliance. Activities were family oriented, centred on co-operation and fun. As water side land values escalate holiday home developments are replacing these communities. Being so close to Auckland City, the baches on Rangitoto are an ideal place to see a little of our past.
“The Trust was formed in 1997 to retain, restore and interpret the baches left on the island. We adapted Bach 38 into a museum and information centre to offer visitors a glimpse into bach life, histories of individual baches and historical photographs,” she says.
The Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Judith Tizard, will announce the award at the launch of the Auckland Heritage Festival at Auckland Museum, 6pm on Thursday 18 September.
Trust Chair - Liz Andrew
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Bach 38 before and after
Bach 38 side before and nearly done
Bach 38 interior water damage
A jury of twelve international conservation experts gave 17 awards out of 45 entries. The conservation project submissions included hotels, cultural and
public institutions, religious sites, residential buildings and urban district from 13 countries in the region.
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The Trust was formed in 1997 as a result of the Department of Conservation’s decision that only three baches should remain on the island. The leaseholders and other concerned people – including Auckland City Heritage Division – wanted to explore ways to save and restore the remaining baches.
Bach 38 was opened in April 2005 and a second Bach 114 at Islington Bay is currently nearing completion. The Trust is supported by Department of Conservation, the Auckland City Council Heritage Division, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and the financial sponsorship of AMP.
Susan’s involvement with heritage began in 1993 with research for her social anthropology MA into the ‘holiday communities’ that formed each year in two areas on Rangitoto Island. She has since worked as a contract heritage researcher for conservation architects, local authorities, NZ Historic Places Trust, Department of Conservation and Auckland Regional Council. As well as the Trust Susan has been on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Auckland Branch Committee for ten years, was a founding member of Devonport Heritage Inc. and has recently been appointed Trustee of the North Shore Heritage Trust.