Tag Archives: Dunedin – Heritage City

‘Heartbreak Hotel’ —Grahame Sydney

Received Thursday, 18 April 2013 11:23 a.m.

Wharf Street Hotel: time for some answers
By Grahame Sydney

With the DCC’s Resource Consent panel now sitting on its evidence, the full Council prevented from commenting on the proposal, and Dunedin ironically about to indulge in a celebration of its invaluable built heritage, isn’t it time a few things were clarified for the Dunedin public ? Time for a few truths to be told, instead of the shamefully dishonest propaganda from the promoters of the Wharf Street Hotel ?

Let’s start with the promotional video released on May 11, 2012 and voiced on behalf of his clients by Steve Rodgers of “Betterways Advisory”.

This sophisticated promo is a must-watch for all Dunedin residents, because within its 3 minute 49 second running time they will discover a Dunedin totally unlike the one they know: this is a fantasy Dunedin, whose tranquil waterfront bears no resemblance whatever to the facts. It is neat and orderly, blessed with open park spaces, and tied to its wharfs are luxury yachts and container ships. Rows of new, unrecognisable buildings have miraculously appeared behind every view of the towering glass monolith, and as the CGI camera sweeps across this fictional CBD towards the Stadium (curiously glimpsed only from overhead) and down its oddly-scaled roadways citizens will puzzle to identify any of the many buildings occupying the land in the vicinity of the Railway Station.

Perhaps the developers have bolder plans than a single hotel ? Certainly the Dunedin presented in this video sales pitch is not today’s city. It’s a scrubbed up, redesigned, blatantly re-scaled quasi-Auckland Viaduct vision in which the hideous proportions of the hotel appear more comfortable and the truth is deliberately ignored.

Dunedin eNZed May 13, 2012

As you watch, hit the Pause button at 33 seconds, at 53, at 1.14, at 1.21, at 1.39, at 2.22….. what ARE those buildings ? Where did they come from ? Have I been asleep these last decades ? Am I in the right city here ? Would someone please be honest here ?

Having extolled the virtues of the city’s marvellous heritage buildings, and noting that they are one of the major reasons why “tourists love this city”, Mr Rodgers proceeds to extol the virtues of “my clients’ grand design”, which so brutally desecrates that heritage.

Who are these visionary clients, so hellbent on bestowing gifts ? We are slowly learning: the “Otago Businesswoman” behind the proposal is an ex-accountant locally, now consultant and wine promoter living in Queenstown. Ms Song has the good fortune to be married to Ping Cao, reportedly “one of China’s top construction company owners”. That marriage, incidentally, took place in another New Zealand city with which she reported fell instantly in love: Nelson. No “gifts” for Nelson, however. How fickle is love.

Being pushed forward now as the public face of the project, Ms Song’s repeated professions of love for Dunedin are no substitute for expertise, or indeed sensitivity. It is evident she and her entrepreneur husband belong to the camp which believes Dunedin’s Victorian and Edwardian built heritage has less appeal than the monstrously ugly Dunedin Stadium, and that they anticipate a brighter future for the city when more of the same charmless, cheap, dated design has overwhelmed the city’s essential historic character.

Far too many unanswered questions remain, and honest answers would be enlightening. Continue reading


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Name, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Stadiums, Tourism, Town planning, Urban design

Reaction to another instance of unthinking ad-hocism from City Hall

Pragmatist hat fully clipped on and tied, I’m saying Mayor Daaave Cull is an alarmist and should be whipped. Page one news (see ODT Online link below, if you dare) is not Daaave Cull at his intelligent best.

What? His council doesn’t know of other buildings in a similar condition to the Barron Building (it’s true there are none so strapped and nudged by its owners, engineers and insurers to collapse under a bulldozer ‘tomorrow’).

So. DCC doesn’t know about Prista Apartments Ltd (372-392 Princes St and 11 Stafford St)? Funny that, DCC issued a work order on 386 Princes St as a direct consequence of submissions made at recent Resource Consent hearings. Funny again, DCC doesn’t know it is the Respondent to an Appeal to the Environment Court by New Zealand Historic Places Trust, in regard to the Resource Consent granted to Prista Apartments Ltd. And funnier, DCC doesn’t know about the Dangerous Building, the old Education Board/AH Reed building on the corner of Crawford and Jetty Sts…. so that wasn’t DCC-initiated safety tape around it?
Oh. I see.

We know nothing! And we have council officers and managers that know nothing! We can’t possibly know anything!
(And this a university town. Shock horror. Alarmism.)

The elected arm of Dunedin City Council, at least, might be expected to know a little of something that doesn’t immediately POSE AN IGNORANT AND ALARMIST THREAT to the fabric of this city, much of which lies in private investment hands.

Daaave, your words inflame and polarise and give little ground for negotiation. You can’t ad-lib on behalf of something WE own and you don’t, and that’s Dunedin’s future.

So ruck off, eat a cupcake, get a sugar load. Because we are very rational and considered, it is WE who will deliver community solutions in sight of legislative change and compulsions.

Do not talk crap. Listen and learn, Daaave.
In other words, smarten the hell up.


The lessons from Christchurch will require re-examination of construction policies in every city and town in the country. In Dunedin, that must surely include existing building standards and compliance codes; whether the district plan should continue to allow construction on land likely to be subject to liquefaction and, if so, the degree of protection required; the provision, location and design of services; and, surely, the future of many of our heritage buildings. None are insurmountable challenges, but they are challenges and have to be faced.

### ODT Online Fri, 4 Mar 2011
Editorial: Re-examining our building codes
Based on seismic data and historical records, New Zealand experiences about 300 – on average – 4 to 4.9 magnitude earthquakes every year, and an average of two magnitude 6 to 6.9 a year. As we have so tragically discovered, earthquakes of these magnitudes can kill and will damage and destroy many man-made structures.
Read more


The authors of What if? regretfully note the website template can’t and won’t drop the following news item down into very fine illegible print.

### ODT Online Fri, 4 Mar 2011
Cull: stark choice over quake plan
By David Loughrey
Dunedin faces a stark choice when it puts in place a policy this year to prepare the city for earthquakes – accept the fact many buildings may not fare well in a quake, or agree to widespread demolition of the city’s heritage architecture.
Read more

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, People, Politics, Project management, Town planning, Urban design