BayBuzz today balked at a DOC press release outlining the reason for the removal of Colin McCahon’s Urewera Mural from Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre at Waikeremoana.

DOC’s East Coast Hawke’s Bay conservator, Peter Williamson, wrote:

“We recently received advice that due to a combination of construction faults and subsequent deterioration of building materials in the upper levels of the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre, there is potential for major structural damage to occur in the event of a serious earthquake. McCahon’s Urewera Mural was the largest cultural item held at the Visitor Centre and we are delighted that for the immediate future, the painting will be well cared for by the experienced staff at Auckland Art Gallery. . . ”

Well DOC, just to clarify, the McCahon painting wasn’t the “largest cultural item” on the premises. That prize goes to the premises itself: that acclaimed architectural gem from the late Haumoana architect John Scott – New Zealand’s first Maori architect (pictured above).

Prompted by your title (“conservator”) Mr Williamson, one has to ask just how Scott’s heritage piece fell into such disrepair, given in the same press release you claim: – “We are mindful of our responsibilities to care for taonga held at the Visitor Centre”.

Perhaps, in this case, DOC’s definition and respect for “taonga” should have been more broadly applied.

Mark

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