Petition aims to save Erskine College chapel and former convent

Steven Buck has begun a campaign to save Erskine College, a heritage building in Island Bay that has been red-stickered as an earthquake risk.

When the Learning Connexion was based at the College, Mr Buck graduated from an art course there and developed a great affection for the history and design of the building.

He has begun a campaign on Facebook to save the endangered Category One historic building from being pulled down.   He considers that it would be a disaster if the building were to be destroyed.

“Everyone has just been focusing on the cost of repairing such a structure, but no one has looked at the cultural and historical hole that will be left if it’s destroyed,” he said.

“People have to remember that once it’s gone, it’s gone, and we’re never going to get it back.”

Mr Buck has detailed the features of the inside of the building. This enables people not only to appreciate its condition, but also how beautiful it is in spite of its damaged state.   He has sought support from Wellington City Council, Erskine’s owners (The Wellington Company) and other organisations; there has been little response thus far.

“I’m just one guy without experience in running such a campaign, but it’s a cause I hold really close to my heart. I’m starting to see the support base for this grow, so it would be great to really do something with it.”

It is hoped that once the Facebook group has grown, an e-petition would be set up through the Council to encourage Erskine’s owners to discuss possibilities for earthquake strengthening.

The cost of such strengthening could be offset to some extent by using the building as a film-set or wedding venue.

Mr Buck said that ideally the chapel and the former convent building would be saved and restored.

He said that saving the site was a big task and that getting discussion into the public arena was an important start.

“As long as Erskine is saved, I don’t care how long it takes. I’m in this for the long haul.”


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