Functions of the Trust
From its inception the Trust has been engaged in the preservation and recording of significant archaeological sites. Its first “emergency” project was the recording of Maori rock-paintings at the junction of the Waikato and Waipapa Rivers on a site soon after submerged by the Waipapa dam. Arrangements were made for impressions, drawings, and as complete a photographic record as possible to be taken, after which sections of the paintings were cut out and removed for museum custody. Similar but much more extensive work in the recording of Maori rock shelter art has been undertaken in the Waitaki basin, a particularly rich centre, part of which is to be submerged by the Benmore (Otematata) hydro project. In the Waitaki and its tributary, the Ahuriri, previously known sites, as well as shelters discovered in the two seasons' survey, have been fully recorded and the summary reports published. More recently, further surveys have been made of South Canterbury rock shelters. The Trust has also provided funds for the systematic excavation of the Auckland volcanic cone of Mount Wellington – action prompted by its pending use as the site for a borough storage dam. Excavation of the striking hilltop pa of Te Tarata in the Waitotara Valley has been of considerable practical and theoretical interest. In all this work the Trust has been glad to have the services and cooperation of individual archaeologists and the New Zealand Archaeological Association, as its resources and facilities do not yet permit the regular employment of such persons.
The Trust's major project to date has been the purchase of the Waimate North Vicarage and the planning of its restoration. This building, the oldest in the country after the house built by the early missionary, James Kemp, at Kerikeri, was completed in 1831 as one of the Church Missionary Society buildings on the establishment of the station. It was later the first headquarters of Bishop G. A. Selwyn and the first site of St. John's College. It is intended to restore the upper storey and interior disposition of the rooms to their original state and purpose. A caretaker has been appointed and much preliminary work has been done. When restoration has been completed, the building should be a most interesting and attractive link in the comparatively dense network of historic buildings in the Bay of Islands area.
The remains of the Paremata barracks at Mana on the Porirua Inlet have also been cleared, surveyed, and protected. The building, of which only the lower sections of some walls and the outline of the foundations now remain, was completed in 1847 as a defensive outpost at the conclusion of a campaign against some Maoris in the area and in the adjacent Hutt Valley.
A cottage in Lavaud Street, Akaroa, known as Eteveneaux House, is the most important remaining link with the French colony of 1840. The Trust made a substantial grant towards the purchase of the building which has been constituted a historic reserve vested in the Akaroa County Council. Grants have also been made for the restoration of two pioneer cottages in South Canterbury – the Cuddy, Waimate, belonging to the Studholme family, and the Levels Hut, near Timaru, the early home of George Rhodes.
Where the preservation of a building on its original site is not possible, the Trust may support its removal. An interesting pioneer home in New Plymouth, the Richmond cottage, built of stone, has been re-erected and restored with funds provided by the Trust, the New Plymouth Borough Council, and the public.
A striking example of restoration and development has been the opening to the public of the Maori War battlefield of Te Porere near the Tokaanu – National Park highway. The three redoubts and the surrounding area on the headwaters of the Wanganui River, with the consent of the Maori owners, have been made an historic reserve. Here in October 1869 was fought the last pitched battle of the Maori Wars when Te Kooti and his followers were defeated and forced to withdraw from the main defensive earthworks which are still most impressively defined. Access bridges and tracks have been constructed, the redoubts have been cleared, and gorse is being eliminated.
The Trust for some years has been concerned that the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Wellington should be preserved. The building, the main part of which was erected in the 1860s to the design of the Rev. Frederick Thatcher, is a striking and unique example of early New Zealand church architecture. As the new cathedral, the first stage of which has been completed, is now in use, the Church authorities have considered demolishing old St. Paul's but it is hoped that the preservation of the building on its present site can be achieved. Another building with which the Trust has been concerned is the Elms, Tauranga, the former residence of Archdeacon A. N. Brown.
In addition to its work of preservation and recording, the Trust has erected plaques and notice boards on appropriate buildings and sites. A standard design for bronze plaques, with an appropriate concrete base where necessary, has been adopted. Notice boards have been erected on sites where a more detailed explanation of their significance is considered necessary. Considerable research is frequently necessary to determine the factual basis of an inscription. Twenty-seven bronze plaques had been erected by 31 March 1961, and some 10 notice boards had been erected or approved.