We are very pleased to announce that Chris Cochran has agreed to take on the role of Patron, following (a little nervously) in the strong tradition set by Dame Shona Kenderdine.
Chris brings to the Trust wide knowledge of New Zealand’s built heritage, learnt first-hand – initially in activism in the 1970s helping the local initiative to see the country’s first conservation zone established in Thorndon; then working on Government-owned heritage buildings in the Ministry of Works, and in 1988 setting up in private practice as a conservation architect. This has involved work for Heritage New Zealand, the Department of Conservation, NZ and UK Antarctic Heritage Trusts, the Rail Heritage Trust, and marae committees, local authorities and private owners.
His career in conservation has been motivated by the importance of the sense of place and the social life that heritage buildings nuture; by admiration of the ingenuity and creativity of those whose buildings we have inherited; by the need to conserve the natural resources of the planet, and by the challenge of adapting and modifying for modern use structures that served the different needs of an earlier time. His conservation planning documents have been influential in the adaptive re-use and conservation of some of our most important buildings, and even, in some cases, in seeing them survive at all.
Some of his favourite buildings? For the seamless integration of a building in a dramatic landscape, Mitchell’s Cottage in Central Otago; for engineering intelligence in the back country, the Springvale Bridge over the Rangitikei; for sheer pioneering audacity, and authenticity to an earlier time, Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds; for the genius of two races coming together in the 1850s, Rangiatea in Otaki, and of course, as the finest modernist building New Zealand has produced, Futuna Chapel in Karori. Thorndon is a special place for Chris, having lived and worked there in the Wedge, family home since 1969, and having written conservation plans for Turnbull House, the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace, Rita Angus Cottage and recently Lilburn House, the homes of four important New Zealanders, as well as for Parliament Buildings and Old St Paul’s.
Chris, a registered architect, was awarded the MNZM in 2007 for services to conservation. He knows Futuna well, having written the conservation plan for the Trust in 2006.