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Berhampore gets renovated community centre after $7m upgrade of flats

bpore flats 1
Photo: Curtis Nixon

Scoop report by Curtis Nixon
The long-awaited opening of Berhampore’s renovated and earthquake-proofed Centennial Flats went ahead today. The focus was on the new Centennial Community Centre, a part of the original complex that was converted into a residential unit in the 1980s, now back and operating as originally intended.

Guests included Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett, Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, and Housing NZ Board Chair Adrienne Young-Cooper. Local kaumatua assisted with blessings and a prayer.

choir
Photo: Curtis Nixon

There were many representatives of the local Berhampore community including the Berhampore School principal and board chair, a choir of Berhampore School children, the Anglican vicar, a Heritage NZ representative, and of course residents of the flats. Catering was by local café/deli Adelaide Trading Company.

Berhampore State Flats as they were first known originally opened in 1940. They were the first multi-unit complex of state housing built by the first Labour government. At the time they were touted as being ‘fit for a Cabinet Minister’. Ernst Plischke, émigré Austrian architect designed them but since his qualification wasn’t recognised here his boss, Gordon Wilson, continues to be credited.

The speakers heaped praise on the workers and staff involved in the project including Architecture Cubed project management and builders Maycroft Construction. As the new community centre is operating as a joint venture between HNZ (facility), Wellington City Council (coordinator funding), and Berhampore School (governance and admin), there was a palpable sense of a strong community effort and coming together for the project.

bpore flats 2
Photo: Curtis Nixon

Paula Bennett was entertaining and upbeat with her comments including that politicians stand by while the actual workers are “just getting on with it”; and that HNZ is there to provide facilities, “bricks and mortar”, while it is up to the tenants to build “bigger and better lives”.

Mayor Celia connected the flats with all of the strong community aspects present in Berhampore including the school and golf club which have both just turned 100 years old. She made reference to her childhood living in a London council flat and compared the low standard of facilities there with the brilliant, high quality community room we were there to celebrate.

cake
Photo: Curtis Nixon

As with all great occasions there was a cake at the end – in this case a wonderfully architectural masterpiece. Two residents, one old and one young, Alice and Mia did the honours cutting it.

News from NZ Government
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett today opened the Centennial Community Centre, which she hopes will become the heart of Berhampore as well as the refurbished Centennial Flats it is located in.

The Housing New Zealand Centennial Flats have undergone a $7 million upgrade to make them safer, warmer and healthier for the people who live in them. The community centre is the final part of the complex to be completed.

bpore flats 3
Photo: Curtis Nixon

“The Berhampore community was really clear that as a part of this rejuvenation they wanted a focal point for activities to be held and services to be offered,” said Mrs Bennett. “I am delighted that HNZ, in partnership with Wellington City Council and Berhampore School, have delivered what the residents asked for. Having the local community centre in the Centennial Flats complex means that residents of the flats and their neighbours can interact in a new and positive way.”

5 comments:

  1. Laurel Nixon, 18. March 2016, 10:29

    Thanks Curtis Nixon, for the great article and photos on the opening of the Berhampore Community Centre.

     
  2. Peter, 18. March 2016, 11:23

    Curtis, you credit Ernst Plischke with planning the Berhampore Flats but this may not be correct. Plischke didn’t arrive in Wellington until May 1939 but according to some sources, the Government announced the flats would be built in 1938 and it is understood they were completed in 1938/9. That said, some references indicate the complex may not have been completed until 1940. It is possible that Pliske may have had some input at a later stage in the planning. However, Gordon Wilson, as Chief Architect of the Department of Housing Construction, had attracted other gifted architects, some also from Europe, who no doubt were also involved in the planning of the vast number of projects that department during that era.

     
  3. Curtis Nixon, 18. March 2016, 13:03

    Thanks mum! And Peter, you may be right. This is what Te Ara says: –
    “He and other European immigrants, such as Fritz Feuer (Frederick Farrar) and Friedrich Neumann (Fred Newman), worked under Gordon Wilson as chief architect on designs for multiple-unit housing blocks to be built by the government in Auckland and Wellington.”

     
  4. Sarah Thomson, 20. March 2016, 17:37

    Excellent article Curtis. I think your apartment complex is lovely and what a fantastic community centre to bring everyone together.

     
  5. Lani, 11. April 2016, 20:48

    Lived there for 30yrs made up of 4rms 2 door bthrm, bath, shower, toilet handbasin. Half the house was the dining area and lounge. Tiny kitchen and laundry. Moved from there for the renovation over a yr ago. The Round House, which we called Rome cause of its shape – 4 generations of my family were bought up in Rome. Also the home where my parents passed away while still living there. Still miss it, but wow the transformation Looks Fab. Well Done.