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Village buildings may be fixed up PDF Print E-mail
14 July 2017 - By John Keast - Key parts of Ashburton's historic Chinese village are tagged to be stabilised or restored in what heritage expert Arlene Baird describes as an ``enormous opportunity''.
She presented her restoration assessment to a council subcommittee, which will recommend to the Finance and Business Committee that it support Option 3 - the stabilisation of former bedrooms and the food store/workshop/school, that old garages and sheds be removed and that the remainder of the buildings be restored.
If possible, the bedrooms and food store/workshop could be restored at a later date.
The preliminary cost for that work is $95,400.
It is also likely the public may be asked to become involved in an archaeological dig at the site - possibly before any restoration work - and that could be done at minimal cost with archaeologists asking only that basic costs be covered - possibly $500.
A report to go the Finance and Business Committee will also say the subcommittee favours a staged approach with the possibility of full restoration at a later date.
Cr Selwyn Price said that he had a feeling there was a lot of interest in the project beyond Mid Canterbury.
Mrs Baird said the project was exciting.
``The more you dig the more comes out of it.''
Two old homes on the corner of the site, unrelated to the historic village, will be demolished or removed and inquiries made to see if any material from them can be used in the older buildings.
The area will be landscaped, and there is a suggestion of a community orchard as opposed to an earlier suggestion for allotments, which could become overgrown.
Mrs Baird said the area was unique and incredible in that there were still people, like Yep Ng, who were brought up there.
He had worked with Mrs Baird in detailing what each building was used for, and the site of other buildings - some of which blew down in a storm.
Mrs Baird said interpretation boards at the entrance, at the site of the restored pig oven, and possibly outside each restored building, would be vital.
She said the site was of regional significance and the loss of it would be of national significance.
The 2.3ha site was home to more than 80 Chinese and included a market garden, living quarters, shops, sheds, food preparation and packing areas, a retail shop and other businesses.
Towards the 1950s, families began to disperse and the market garden and on-site shop was closed in 1964 and Yep Ng and his brothers retained the King Bros fruit shop in Burnett Street, Ashburton.
The descendants of the original owners signed an agreement with the council to manage the land.
Council in 2013 resolved to use the land for recreation, to try to restore and protect heritage items, to set up a memorial, that no rates be charged to the registered owners, that council can receive rental income from a building on the site, and the agreement can be terminated by both parties with two months' notice.
The buildings are described in the report as from poor to average to good quality.
Cr Mark Malcolm asked if feng shui had been considered, as it might not be good to have a pig oven as a focus.

 

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