NZ Transport Agency and Auckland City Council joint media release.
The future of the historic Campbell Free Kindergarten in Victoria Park has been secured by an agreement in principle between its owner, the Auckland City Council, and the NZ Transport Agency.
Under the agreement, the NZTA will upgrade and protect the heritage building, which has been abandoned for more than 20 years.
Part of the building will be used to house the electrical and communications equipment needed to operate the Victoria Park Tunnel now under construction through the park. The remainder of the building will be available for public use.
Auckland City mayor, John Banks, says everyone wins from the agreement. “Large infrastructure projects don’t need to cause only disruption, they can give a great deal back to local communities. The restoration of this critical heritage building is yet another example of this, as is the restoration of the Rob Roy Hotel. Both will be significant legacies from the Victoria Park Tunnel project.”
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the agreement to restore the kindergarten is an excellent example of collaboration between local and central government to achieve the best possible outcome for the community.
“While it will produce a small cost saving to the project, the more significant advantage is the legacy the Victoria Park Tunnel project will provide by restoring the kindergarten as an attractive and functional community asset.
“We’re already committed to protecting and restoring the old Rob Roy Hotel, so it is doubly rewarding for the NZTA that we are able to do the same for the kindergarten on behalf of the people of Auckland,” Mr Parker says.
He says the tunnel equipment in the former kindergarden will be for emergency or standby use only and will have little impact on any future use the rest of the building is put to.
The Campbell Free Kindergarten was New Zealand’s first kindergarten. It was built in 1910 and funded by the “father of Auckland” John Logan Campbell and his wife on the condition it would operate as a free kindergarten.
The kindergarten continued to operate in Victoria Park until the 1950s when the service was moved elsewhere and the building was handed over to the Auckland City Council. It served for a time as the clubrooms for the Grafton Cricket Club and as a practice room for a pipe band but has been unused for the past 20 years.
Under the agreement, the NZTA will return the kindergarten to its pre-1950s appearance. This will include seismic strengthening and extensive renovations inside and outside.
Mr Parker says the work would be finished in time for commissioning of the Victoria Park Tunnel in mid-2012.
Once the tunnel works are completed, the council will work through the options for future use of the public space in the building.