It was in Britain that the concept of creating a Civic trust, dealing with the quality of the present and future built environment, was first developed, with the founding of the nationwide Civic Trust there in 1957. The structure and aims of Civic Trust Auckland is modeled on that organization, but with important additional elements, particularly Maori heritage and the protection of landforms. It was against this background and an immediate concern over the possible subdivision of Churchill Park, in Glendowie, that Civic Trust Auckland came into being.
Civic Trust Auckland, founded by Mrs Margaret Newman and other concerned Auckland citizens, was incorporated in 1968. The Trust undertook work that aimed to arouse public interest and awareness in environmental and heritage concerns.
Its first President was Sir Douglas Robb, well-known surgeon and Auckland identity. The first Board of Directors included the President of the National Council of Women, District Commissioner of Works, President of the NZIA, Mayor of Takapuna, President of Auckland Jaycees, a surveyor, a developer and several engineers and Town Planners.
In 1971, E A J (Jim) Holdaway, Trustee and Life Member, served as President over the next 7 years. During that time many submissions and studies were made.
With the Civic Trust office set up at ‘Hamurana’ , one of the merchant houses at 29 Princes Street, Jim’s term saw the beginning of the Mahurangi Scott Point project, (led by Margaret Newman and Jo Donovan), under which working bees were organized for the restoration of the historic Scott Homestead. The 23 Alten Road project got under way, to save and restore the oldest timber dwelling still located on its original site in the City (current).
Cherry Raymond, well known broadcaster and journalist, was the next President.
In 1983 Bryan Bartley, who had played a major part in saving the Princes Street merchant houses, became President during the next three years. Seminars of that time were: ‘Bricks, Byways and Backwaters’, ‘Auckland the Water City’, ‘Auckland City of Trees’ and the Auckland Harbour Symposium.
1986 and 1987 saw Judy Brandt as President. This was the year of the Viaduct Basin Study and the Manukau Harbour Study followed. She was followed from 1987 to 1991 by Roy Clements, Life Member. This was a time of widespread destruction in the city and many battles were fought in attempts to save historic buildings – some won, such as the Custom House – others lost, such as the old Salvation Army Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre.
Civic Trust Auckland worked then, as now, with a number of other organizations, for example a conservation week seminar on the Waitakere Ranges, with the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society and Forrest and Bird. Roy was followed by Darren Day who carried on the battle over the next two years. Di Stewart took over as President in 1995 for the next two years. An intensive project undertaken over these years, which overtaxed the energies of so many, was the Save Britomart Project. This drive won a significant victory for that important area of the city.
After Di Stewart’s death in 1998, Kate Leslie took over as President. In early 1999, Civic Trust Auckland lost its home of many years at Hamurana (at the conclusion of a 21year lease with the Auckland City Council) and for a period struggled to survive.
For three years Civic Trust Auckland was without formal premises, in partial recess. This period however saw progress towards a history of 23 Alten Road and another on Partington’s Mill, both earmarked for future publication. A watching brief was maintained on various development projects.
In 2004, a group of Life Members undertook responsibility as the Interim Board. By 2005 an elected board headed by President Bryan Bartley and Vice President Roy Clements, heralded a substantial revival of the Trust.
At the 2006 AGM Munroe Graham was voted in as president.
Current president Allan Matson was appointed to the new Auckland Council Heritage Advisory Panel. The Trust endeavoured to submit to most Auckland Council plans and participate in ongoing consultation with the council on heritage issues.
The Trust made major submissions to the Auckland Plan, published in March 2012, and then participated in the extensive council consultation to formulate the Draft Unitary Plan in 2013.
A substantial submission was made to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan in February 2014 and the Trust is involved in the further submissions and hearings process.
The Trust continues with the popular Winter Lecture Series, in conjunction with Kinder House. It also has events in the Auckland Heritage Festival, held every year in early October, and has hosted events in the Auckland Conversations series, run by Auckland Council.
Compiled by Carol Sanders, with input from Roy Clements, Munroe Graham and Helen Geary.