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Historic building petition launched

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013
 Michael Wood
IMPORTANT HERITAGE: Puketapapa Local Board member Michael Wood outside what was the old Mt Roskill Municipal Chambers. A campaign is underway to protect the building.

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The fight to preserve one of the few Mt Roskill buildings that could be considered to have historic value has stepped up a notch.

A campaign to lobby the Auckland Council to retain the old Mt Roskill Municipal Chambers is underway with a petition set up to gather signatures.

The building, on the corner of Mt Albert and Mt Eden roads in Three Kings, was at the heart of the old Mt Roskill borough which stretched as far as New Lynn and Royal Oak.

It has suffered serious water damage in its life and has been infected by black mould. It has been vacant since early last year.

The petition is being driven by Mt Roskill-Puketapapa Historical Society chairman Garth Houltham.

He says the building is no 1800s-era cottage but it is still worth preserving the partially Art Deco specimen.

"The problem in Roskill is we have so few heritage buildings, I think we have four listed. If we don't save this one now in 50 years it will be too late - it will really be part of history then."

By Tuesday the petition had been running for 10 days and more than 500 signatures had been collected.

Mr Houltham was planning to present the petition and other information to a meeting of the Auckland Council's heritage forum on Tuesday and also hopes to speak to the full council at its next meeting at the end of the month.

The drive to preserve the building comes from the uncertainty surrounding its future.

Until the discovery of the black mould last year the building had been home to the Puketapapa Local Board, which now uses a space in the Finkling Centre.

The chambers were built in 1957 on a site that has been associated with local government in the Mt Roskill area since 1885.

Mr Houltham says the original front of the building could be kept and restored, while additions made to the back of the building in later years could be removed.

He would like to see the local board return to the building, and for part of it to be used as a community venue.

"It's at the heart of Mt Roskill, it's where all the decisions about how to develop Mt Roskill have been made.

"It's an integral part of the local history."

But he says despite the building's rich history and its potential to become a community asset some elements of the council are not committed to "retaining and restoring the building, meaning there is a real threat the council could exit and demolish the building".

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Mt Houltham says much of the Mt Roskill population he has spoken to is unaware the building's future is in possible jeopardy.

"At the moment when I tell people they say ‘they can't do that, it's not fair'," he says.

"There is strong support locally so we have to keep our fingers crossed."

The campaign is supported by the Puketapapa Local Board and heritage representative Michael Wood has said keeping the building is a priority.

"It's not the most beautiful building but it is very much a part of the history of Mt Roskill and we want to see it retained along with other buildings."

- Central Leader

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