Memorabilia salvage hopes in ruins

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2011
Restaurant Association president Michael Turner said his central-city restaurant, Cafe Valentino, was demolished without his knowledge.
STACY SQUIRES/The Press
OFF THE MENU: Restaurant Association president Michael Turner said his central-city restaurant, Cafe Valentino, was demolished without his knowledge.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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A Christchurch restaurant owner, told his business was too unsafe to salvage items from inside, says soldiers had entered and removed furniture to sit on.

Restaurant Association president Michael Turner said Cafe Valentino was demolished without his knowledge in spite of assurances it would not be.

He said he had already made plans to demolish the Colombo St cafe, but had hoped to salvage as much as possible, including 20 years of memorabilia. That included posters and items signed by stars such as Johnny Cash, who had played at the Town Hall and visited the cafe.

"The upsetting part of that is we were told that we couldn't go in because it's too dangerous, yet the soldiers were able to do so."

Turner said he bore no ill will towards the soldiers, who had been helpful, but he had spoken to officials about the chairs that were removed.

He said he had been in regular contact with Civil Defence and had registered his landline and cellphone numbers, as well as his email address, and was assured he would be given notice before the building was demolished.

"What we wanted was 20 minutes [to get stuff out]."

He said at 10.10am on Tuesday, someone from Urban Search and Rescue had left a message on his home phone telling him the building was coming down.

"I wasn't at home. I thought they could've at least called my mobile."

Communication by officials with business owners was "absolutely terrible".

"You're lucky if you can get to speak to the same person twice down at the Earthquake Recovery Centre," he said. "They're just not giving consideration to what's going to happen after their state of emergency is over."

Turner said if any plans were being made, they had not been communicated to business owners.

There would be a "mass migration" of businesses to the suburbs, leaving Christchurch with "nothing left in the central city".

"Every city needs a heart," he said.

"If we're going to rebuild the centre of town, we're going to need better co-operation than what we're currently getting."

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- The Press

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