by Chris Tobin

Two notable Caroline Bay landmarks have been added to the New Zealand Heritage list.

The memorial wall and tearooms were on December 12 placed on the list which formally took effect on January 22.

Each has been given a category 2 rating which meant they were places of historical or cultural significance or value.

Heritage NZ senior assessment adviser Robyn Burgess said both were nominated for inclusion on the list by a member of the public.

“Anyone is welcome to nominate places for entry on the list and we have a system of prioritisation to work out when they can be progressed. It can take some years.”

The tearooms and wall are owned by the Timaru District Council. The tearooms have to be earthquake-strengthened and the council has stated work on the historic ceiling and tile roof would be challenging.

Asked for the expected cost for the work and when it would start a council spokesman said:

“We are developing strategies for all the earthquake-strengthened buildings across the district.”

Challenging…Work on the Caroline Bay Tearooms’ tile roof and historic ceiling is expected to be challenging. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

Substantial earthquake work had been planned to start this year for another council-owned category 2 building, the Aigantighe Art Gallery, with more than $600,000 set aside but this has been shelved for a year due to the project’s complexities.

“The tearooms have a striking design within the broader historical landscape that is Caroline Bay.”

When the tearooms were first built in 1905 the sand stretched almost up to the building which has been modified over the years.

Original…The Caroline Bay tearooms shortly after they opened – then known as a tea house. PHOTO: South Canterbury Museum 1997/076.01 #042?.

She said the 400m long memorial wall was particularly interesting because it was built in 1929 as a sea wall as well as a war memorial. The wall was partly funded by the Caroline Bay Association and built using local volunteer labour.

“It was built in 1929 and is unusual in that it covers World War 1 conflict sites around the world as well as New Zealand’s Victoria Cross recipients in that war.”

The wall has concrete balls spaced along it at regular intervals, under which are bronze plaques with battlefield and naval battles names on them. The centrepiece of the wall is a sundial bearing a plaque listing service personnel who won a Victoria Cross in World War1.

Heritage NZ said the wall had added historical significance also as a marker of where the beach was when it was constructed in 1929.

In a citation accompanying the designation of historic status for the wall and tearooms, Heritage NZ said a Facebook poll run by AA Traveller found that Caroline Bay was the most popular beach in the South Island and the fourth-most popular in New Zealand.

Ms Burgess said Timaru had a “very good” representation of places on the New Zealand Heritage list. Timaru district has 127 entries, Mackenzie district has 30 and Waimate district 26. Others in Canterbury are: Ashburton district 38, Christchurch district 354, Hurunui district 54, Kaikoura district 11, Selwyn district 32, and Waimakariri district 80.

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