I pay tribute to Western Bays City councillor, Graeme Easte who has doggedly pursued options to have this wonderful building kept in public ownership and also to find a partner who would use it the best possible way for Auckland.
Over the years a number of people including former Western Bays Community Board member and Freeman's Bay resident, Diane Percy, tattooist and Ponsonby businessman and one time mayoral candidate, Phil Mathias and his widow Sharon as well as this writer have produced ideas for retaining and using this building.
Built in 1910 and donated by John Logan Campbell it was the first kindergarten in New Zealand. For that reason alone it should have been maintained and put to community use.
Councillor Easte's successful negotiation has ensured this will happen. Future as well as current residents of Auckland will have a wonderful place to enjoy.
Below is a letter I wrote to and was published by the New Zealand Herald Tuesday June 2010
The restoration and upgrading of the Campbell Free Kindergarten is great news.
To make it a public hall is pragmatic. There is a great demand for affordable public halls in the city and being on the Link bus route and within walking distance of the city and Ponsonby will ensure its viability.
With the Rugby World Cup happening next year it could be used as a temporary Sporting museum which would be a wonderful asset to the city. It would also be good for marketing this restored gem to Aucklanders.
Long term it would be good to see some recognition to the Ponsonby Ponies Rugby League and the Grafton Cricket Clubs which have been associated with Victoria Park for many years. This building was actually their club rooms. In fact the first game of Rugby League in New Zealand was played on Victoria Park. This recognition could be accommodated in a public hall.
It would also be fitting to have some memorial to the founder of Auckland, John Logan Campbell who funded this kindergarten.
More so as we are within weeks of the birth of our super city we should honour and appreciate the people who founded the city and those who have made a contribution to Auckland