Last weekend the girls and I went up Scarbourgh hill at the end of Sumner, a Christchurch beach. There is a steep and very popular walkway that heads up and over and down into another very popular sheltered surf beach called Taylors Mistake. This beach has a sweet history and a bunch of historic baches RIGHT on the beach, nestled into the rockfaces.
Baches are what New Zealanders call a small house primarily used as a holiday “home” the word “home” being used rather loosely, until recently. NZ is now coming into the 21st century we have building codes, health standards and stuff thats supposed to make us a healthier happier nation. Once upon time we didn’t have this and a person might build a little summer holiday house with a platform, some walls and roof and fill it with a few comforts of home, like a bed, chairs MAYBE running water and sink (if your lucky). With the building codes and living standards put in place our simple little baches are dwindling away. The owners often pretty normal people, with medium to low incomes, who don’t have the money to install a toilet or running water, so they are either brought out by someone more affluent to “do-up” or demolished.
Something else has happened to threaten even more or these wee places. Our whats now called the “Queens Chain”. I’m not completely certain of the ins and outs of it. But it boils down to this, all waterways, this includes beaches, lakes and rivers are public property. In the past the access to these waterways would of been restricted by properties on the edges of these waterways. Now several meters in from the edge of all of all of these water ways have to be publicly accessible. For some places, this means, the ambling lawn from house to rivers edge will be changed into a walkway, so separating your property from that part with either fencing or an angry dog will soon be necessary. For others the house will have to be moved or just taken away. The rumors are some of the Taylors Mistake baches are on the way out. I wanted to take some photos for histories sake.
I dont know how i feel about this. There are many positives and negatives.. to have public access to waterways we may be on our way to have public appreciation of the rivers and lakes… meaning perhaps less damming or destruction of such an amazing resource. So on a larger scale perhaps its a good thing. However there is the history in these places that i think we need to treasure. NZ is so young we have precious little houses older than a hundred or so years old left. I know the council is trying to keep some. But is it enough?
On this walk on the Sumner side I saw the results of an old historic property being sold. An old quarry stone house right on the cliff edge, amazing views and outlook has now GONE. Replaced by a fashionable dwelling of concrete and prematurely rusted metal facade. I was FURIOUS (To say the least). I think it was one of the classic cases here in NZ where the owners let it become decapitated and uninhabitable, so due to health concerns they had permission to destroy it. Down the old historic building came… up a blocky boring fashionable building went. SIGH.