Historic creche on the move

GED CANN
Last updated 09:40 22/05/2014
Home of Compassion creche
COLIN McLELLAN/FAIRFAX NZ

ON THE MOVE: Workmen prepare to move the Home of Compassion creche.

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The Wellingtonian

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The movement to a new site of the 100-year-old Home of Compassion creche began in Buckle St this week after nearly five months of strengthening work.

During the relocation the creche will become a feature of the eastern end of the new Memorial Park, with its own landscaped grounds.

The creche was the first of its kind in New Zealand, catering specifically for children of low-wage families while the mothers worked.

Built in 1914, it continued the work Mother Aubert began in 1903.

Aubert, who founded the Sisters of Compassion, New Zealand's first home-grown Catholic order, is being considered by the Vatican as possibly New Zealand's first Catholic saint.

The creche is the last remnant of the Catholic precinct that developed on land north of the Basin Reserve, and has architectural significance as a domestic version of the Gothic style often used in churches.

The three-stage relocation involves lifting the 200-tonne building 3.2 metres and moving it 15 metres to the west.

Project manager Ian Pringle said most of the work had been strengthening. "We've reinforced the walls and the ceiling," he said.

Site worker Colin McLellan said the movement of the creche was made easier by the teflon plates on which it rested. "It weighs 200 tonnes, about 50 tonnes per corner, but we're only using about six tonnes of pull," he said.

Community relations manager Brian Aspin said the project would cost about $2 million.

"That's including the move, the restoration of the exterior and the partial restoration of the interior, including stripping the brickwork back and having the edging redone, and the landscaping of the garden," he said.

There are several prospective uses for the building, including a museum dedicated to Aubert.

The move will be completed in July.

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- The Wellingtonian

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