People & Places

A final look at a modernist masterpiece pre-demolition

Article by Home Magazine

In 2016 the modernist masterpiece that was the Aniwaniwa Visitor’s Centre was demolished by the Department of Conservation. We reflect on its last moments

A final look at a modernist masterpiece pre-demolition

In 2016 the Aniwaniwa Vistors centre, designed by the legendary John Scott, was demolished by the Department of Conservation. For some time, the Department of Conservation had been eager to divest itself of the building for fiscal reasons. This may come to mark one of the greatest no-longer-existent taonga of our cultural history.

As well as being a modernist icon, Aniwaniwa asked to be thought of as many other things. With its concrete walkways lifted high on McCahon-esque, tau-cross pillars, and its elevated courtyard, it could have been described as an airborne marae. At the conceptual and spatial centre of this endlessly surprising structure was a large, circular window which Scott called the “Eye of Rua”, watching over all.

Do we still prefer our ‘heritage’ to be of the clichéd settler-period kind? The unholy demolition of the centre has made people question what it says about us.

Words by: Gregory O’Brien. Photography by: David Straight.

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