Mar 24, 2009

Our Shame

In July 2008 we reported on Ti Kouka House, the circa 1865 home of Samuel de la Bere Barker (1848-1901) at 281 Cambridge Terrace near to the Madras Street bridge.

Son of Dr Alfred Charles Barker, the pioneer of Canterbury photography, Sam Barker was a widely renowned Botanist. A promenade along the river bank was officially named Barkers Avenue as a consequence of his development of a botanical garden in the extensive grounds of Ti Kouka house, which originally stretched from the river bank to Kilmore Street. A part of the garden was subsequently replaced by an extension to Cambridge Terrace, now a cul de sac.

Occupying a potentially valuable inner city redevelopment site, the historically significant house had been allowed to fall into dereliction in an all too familiar and shamefully predictable sequence that resulted in an arson attempt in August, 2008. On the night of the 21st of March 2009 the second attempt to burn the house succeeded.

That the Christchurch City Council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust apparently turned a blind eye while this historic house, which was in relatively sound condition in July 2008, was allowed to fall into ruin and finally succumb to a second arson attempt, raises serious issues which might be more appropriately addressed at a national level.

Ti Kouka House, 29 June 2003
Courtesy of Early Canterbury Photographers

Further Reading
We are greatfully indebted to kinopus 88 for the above detail from a photograph of the conflaguration, which is part of a sequence of 16 photos recording the final destruction of Ti Kouka House.

Post-fire photos of Ti Kouka House.

July, 2008 original article: Saving Canterbury's Heritage

August, 2008 post fire article: Heritage Tragedy

A sequence of photographs by Ars 666 of the interior of Ti Kouka House in August, 2008


Anonymous said...

I smelled smoke as I was walking down Madras St yesterday and knew immediately it would be this house.

Fabulous. The Occidental next? Nevermind, in 100 years we can still marvel at the wonderful inflatable dome our council had the foresight to buy - that's what REALLY matters.

Jayne said...

Inflatable dome?

That is such a damn shame, getting rather sick and tired of hearing about councils/govt/authoritative bodies turning deliberate blind eyes to the demise of beautiful heritage properties for the sake of revoltingly vile developments that have as much architectural substance as that of a plastic pen.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Since an attempt by local bureaucracy to exercise ad hoc censorship on this public forum, we've delved well beyond the superficial in evaluating the extent to which malfeasance appears to prevail at the more influential levels within our city. We would have liked to publish the results of our reseach, but top-down witch hunts can be the worst of all, especially when backed up by the pernicious creed of official authoritarianism...


kuaka said...

I had to wait a day or so to calm myself down before commenting in a more sober tone:


Canterbury Heritage said...

In 1940 the renowned New Zealand politician John A. Lee was expelled from the Labour Party for publishing an article entitled Psycho-pathology in politics. In 1979 Carl Sagan reflected in Broca's Brain upon the reptillian qualities of that lowest part of the brain which attracts the political animal amongst our species. Had we allowed ourselves the illusion that a modicum of progress had been made within our political milieu, then this shameful sequence of events should leave no doubt as to the prevailing realities.

sheree said...

The council should be protecting our pre 1940 buildings. The Historic Places Trust keep saying they can't do anything either,well that is such a cop out. Historic Places Trust still defend Jenny Mays Kinsey House report ,that report sealed its fate( the most historic residential building in Christchurch in my opinion).
Ti Kouka house was a case of demolition by neglect,the family trust did nothing to protect it, when I rang the security firm and asked if they could improve the security they said it was up to the owners to make the house secure they only monitered the property.After the first fire there was no attempt to cover the open fire damaged side if the house either.
It is appalling that the council has once again failed to protect the city's heritage.
There is a public meeting at the Sydenham Church on the cnr of colombo st and brougham st on tuesday 21st April starting at 7.30 to discuss heritage under threat.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks for the interesting comment Sheree, I'll come to that meeting and report back for Canterbury Heritage.