STUFF

The 2020 New Year honours are out and there are big wins in sport and popular culture.

A Christchurch woman who successfully campaigned to rescue heritage buildings from demolition after the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes has become a dame.

Former Christchurch City councillor, heritage campaigner and arts champion Anna Crighton was awarded the title Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year honours.

Crighton had long campaigned to protect New Zealand’s historic buildings, but stepped up after the Canterbury quakes to rescue as many as she could from demolition.

Anna Crighton says she was "speechless" after hearing about the honour.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

Anna Crighton says she was “speechless” after hearing about the honour.

She said it was devastating to see so many heritage buildings demolished after the quakes.

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“It took me a while to get over that, to be fair. Somehow, I reenergised myself and started the fight for heritage protection.

CHRIS SKELTON & ALDEN WILLIAMS

Heritage advocate Anna Crighton plans to launch a legal battle to stop the Catholic church demolishing the historic cathedral. (Video first published in August 2019)

“It was a hard battle because of [the government’s] scorched earth policy on demolishing most of the central city without any thought.

“We lost over half of our character and heritage buildings in the central city. It was terrible. What wasn’t destroyed by the quake was demolished by [the government].”

Crighton helped restore the quake-damaged Isaac Theatre Royal in her role as director of the theatre’s charitable foundation.

The honour was official recognition for the importance of protecting New Zealand's built heritage, she says.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF

The honour was official recognition for the importance of protecting New Zealand’s built heritage, she says.

She also helped preserve more than a dozen Christchurch heritage buildings, including the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) building, St Barnabas Church in Fendalton and part of the Arts Centre, as chair of the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund Trust from 2010 to 2014. The trust raised about $10 million to help restore heritage buildings.

She said was proud to save the former Trinity Church in central Christchurch and the Shands building, which was relocated to Manchester St and restored.

“We lost so many heritage buildings in the quakes, but we saved some.”

The Shands Emporium building was moved to Manchester St and restored by Crighton's heritage group.

Kirk Hargreaves/Stuff

The Shands Emporium building was moved to Manchester St and restored by Crighton’s heritage group.

She said the honour was official recognition of the importance of preserving New Zealand’s built heritage.

“When I first started as a [city] councillor in the 90s, heritage protection wasn’t even on the agenda. It has really progressed after the last 25 years.

“It is still a challenge, but it is pleasing that more people are involved in protecting heritage.”

Crighton at a CDHB meeting in 2017.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Crighton at a CDHB meeting in 2017.

Crighton said her love of heritage started when she was a child.

“I spent the first seven years of my life in my grandmother’s villa. It was a house full of exquisite bric-a-brac. It was idyllic.

“It was from that early experience and my respect and admiration for the charm and detail of those lovely villas that I started to love heritage and history.”

Crighton outside her Christchurch home in 1999.

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

Crighton outside her Christchurch home in 1999.

She established the Christchurch Heritage Trust in 1996, has been chair of the Christchurch Heritage Awards Charitable Trust since 2009 and a member of the Canterbury District Health Board for the past 12 years. She was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order in 2005.

But she said the new honour was a surprise.

“I was stunned and totally astonished. I couldn’t believe that something like that would happen to me.

Crighton stands outside the now restored Trinity Church on the corner of Manchester and Worcester streets in 2015.

Joseph Johnson/Stuff

Crighton stands outside the now restored Trinity Church on the corner of Manchester and Worcester streets in 2015.

“Dame Anna is going to take some getting used to.”

Stuff

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/118421786/christchurch-heritage-campaigner-anna-crighton-becomes-a-dame

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