Heritage restored . . . Hurunui Mayor Marie Black (left), with Jo and Dave McKenzie from Montrose Station, and Hawarden Waikari Lions Club members Dave Hislop, Gary McCracken and Bruce Churchward, at the Canterbury Heritage Awards last week. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


Hurunui’s heritage is in safe hands.

A lovingly restored home near Culverden, and a forestry lookout atop a rocky bluff in the Hurunui Hills, carried off trophies at the Canterbury Heritage Awards last week.

Dave and Jo McKenzie from Montrose Station, Culverden, were joint winners in the Domestic Saved and Restored category, while the Hawarden Waikari Lions were joint winners in the public Realm Saved and Restored category.

Each received a Neil Dawson trophy. Mr Dawson is a prominent New Zealand sculptor who has exhibited internationally, and crafted many fine commissioned works. The Lookout was equal first with the Christchurch Arts Centre. Hurunui Mayor, Marie Black, who helped drive the project, says this showed “just how amazing” the award was.

The Domestic Saved and Restored Award is reward for several years of planning and careful negotiation of red tape by the McKenzies to rebuild their 1913 Montrose Station homestead, near Culverden, after the devastation of the 2016, 7.8 magnitude earthquake centred on Waiau.

It wrecked havoc in North Canterbury, Kaikoura and beyond, and destroyed parts of the homestead designed by architect Cecil Wood at a time when he was considered the leading domestic architect in Canterbury.

The family and their three children have only been back in their home a year, with the intervening time spent making decisions around the rebuild, how to manage it and meeting the Historic Places Trust’s criteria for the Category 2 building.

‘‘All plans had to go through them (the Historic Places Trust), for approval which added another six months to rebuild.

‘‘Meanwhile we lived in the 90 square metre shearers quarters, compared to our 600 square metre house,’’ says Jo.

Some parts of the home were repaired, some demolished and then rebuilt.

The architects for the project, Wilson and Hill, ensured much of the original timber and brick construction was retained, with many original features skilfully reintegrated.

Jo says it is a huge thrill to be back in their home.

The Hawarden Waikari Lions Club led project restoring the Balmoral Forestry Lookout has helped preserve a rare example of a fire lookout in New Zealand, which hold a place in history alongside lighthouses.

Local builder Matthew Newton breathed new life into the lookout, and a plains table identifies the peaks that can be viewed from it.

There is also information on panels inside the building telling the story of the lookout, and the people who kept the Balmoral forest safe.

Hurunui Mayor , Marie Black, who was raised on the family farm that surrounded the lookout, says the project became a collaboration between community groups, with the

Amberley Lions also coming on board with a donation for seats, so people can take a breather during the 40 minute walk from the Bluff Road up to the Lookout.

It was now akin to a museum collection of historic information relating to forestry assets, production and the protection of assets over a long period of time.