Here in Christchurch, we’ve grown used to the government exercising the extraordinary powers that they’ve had since the quake. While they were granted so that they could get the recovery moving, they seem to have been mainly used so that CERA and CCDU can knock down heritage buildings without going through an RMA process. The most recent case was the Majestic Theatre; the next looks to be the War Memorial Hall at CPIT. This was built in 1935 to honour the 71 students of the college who died in World War I.

Technical College _0001

The building was opened by the Govenor-General, Lord Galway, in 1935. Our current Governor-General has been exercising his extraordinary powers, on something that also has to do with heritage and World War I:

The governor-general has been forced to use his special powers to avoid the embarrassment of New Zealand’s Anzac Day centenary centrepiece not being completed on time … The lack of action eventually threatened the park’s completion to the point where the Queen’s representative, Sir Jerry Mateparae, last week had to rubber-stamp a resource consent to get the ball rolling again and save the Government’s blushes.

In Wellington, the Government is pulling out all the stops to ensure a WWI memorial is built in time for the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day; in Christchurch, the same government is using Section 38 to ensure that a WWI memorial will no longer exist on the 25th of April, 2015. While the Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage hasn’t shown much interest in preserving Christchurch’s buildings, as I’ve blogged about before, he does care about our military history. He’s issued three statements about Christchurch heritage – and 8 about the National War Memorial. As he is clearly concerned with honouring the people who served our country in war, here’s hoping that he steps in to preserve this memorial.

I am disappointed that CERA are invoking their war-time powers to demolish a building that is a reminder of the horrors of war. Labour believes that the time for using Section 38 powers to pull-down buildings is over, and would ensure that a building such as this would not be demolished without first going through a consultation process with the community.