For Hawke's Bay architect Graham Linwood and designer Jacob Scott there was a slightly bittersweet touch to receiving Presidents Awards at the recent New Zealand Institute of Architects annual awards dinner in Wellington.
The pair were honoured for the devotion of time and effort they put in to raise awareness of the importance of the John Scott-designed Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre at Lake Waikaremoana, and their subsequent efforts in trying to save it from demolition - which to their disappointment and anger was eventually carried out.
"We may have got awards but we lost a much-loved building in the process," was how Mr Linwood put it.
The awards are presented to people who do something both inspirational and exceptional for the institute, which was summed up by the wording on Mr Scott's award as he is the son of the late architect John Scott.
"A difficult time for him and his family, he championed an important work by one of New Zealand's most significant architects - standing up against official indifference and considerable pressure in defence of a Category 1 Historic Place."
There was equal praise for Mr Linwood who said a lot or work had gone into trying to save Aniwaniwa which was deemed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to not be worth saving - citing building issues which the institute strongly argued against.
"Outrageous estimates of costs were prepared so as to make the repair of the building untenable," Mr Linwood said.
"Our estimate to re-occupy the building was about 20 per cent of the cost they considered had to be spent."
He said he Mr Scott, and the institute were "extremely angry" that the building suffered and deteriorated in the way it did, but said it all became political towards the end and it was clear that DOC and local Tuhoi did not want it retained - at any cost.
Mr Scott said it all became complicated and described what was happening as "craziness".
But like Mr Linwood he agreed there was a positive outcome in that the institute was not going to take what happened lying down.
Mr Linwood said he had been approached by several people after the demolition had begun and suggested he "park it" as it was over.
"But you can't do that," he said.
"One of our main concerns is that the demolition of Aniwaniwa established a dangerous precedent in that owners of heritage buildings will consider that because the government demolished a significant Category 1 heritage building then there is nothing to stop them doing exactly the same thing again."
He said the institute was not about to lie down and be confronted again by what he called a "we can do what we like" stance from government.
Accordingly they were setting about taking their own political path in pursuing the creation of a better process in terms of issues with heritage buildings.
"What the NZIA is now endeavouring to do is to make listing in the plan mandatory once Heritage NZ has deemed a building or place to be of heritage value so that other buildings may be afforded some protection in the future."
He said the issue had galvanised the institute which embraced the cause.
They would now embrace the development of a better overall process in such cases.
Mr Scott said the issue became complex and that the building effectively became a pawn "caught in the middle of a lot of political ingredients".
He and Mr Linwood were now both involved in the second part of the whole Aniwaniwa story.
"A book is in the brew," he said.
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