THE BURKES PASS HERITAGE TRUST NEWS - April 2002 printer version in word
Much has happened since the last newsletter almost six months ago. As I write, it is a year today since the Trust celebrated its ownership of St Patrick's Church at Burkes Pass by hosting the 129th celebration service. In 12 months since we have made considerable progress in our work to preserve the church and celebrate  the heritage of the village.


Urban planner Graham Densem has prepared an initial draft of  ideas on how to enhance the grounds of St Patrick's Church and Burkes Pass township. This is a discussion document and everyone is being invited to peruse the plan placed in the church and cafe and make comments. Graham Densem will visit Burkes Pass this Sunday, May 5, to present the plan and gather  feedback to work on fine tuning ideas for a more definitive plan. It is hoped the ideas that have general agreement will be broken up into individual projects and a programme of staged implementation begun. The meeting will be at the Alpine Cafe from 2pm.


December was much cause for celebration for the Trust when we received a NZ Lottery Grants Board grant for $7500. This has provided us with some secure funding and the means to pursue our next phase of work, namely beginning a heritage conservation plan, to start planning for the heritage walkway, the historical interpretation panels inside the church, and publish an information brochure on the church and  Burkes Pass. While the conservation plan may seem costly, it is essential in order to guide future work on the church and obtain subsequent  funding.  The Trust is grateful for the Lottery Grants Board s support in financing these projects.


Work is progressing on the archives. Much information has been sent to the Trust from residents, old identities, and former residents for safe keeping. The material will be archived in accordance with advice sought from professionals with expertise in the area of preserving historical literature and photographs. The Trust is working on producing a photograph album that will map the development of the village, It will be a work in progress as new sources of material are unearthed and added to the collection. The album will be mounted inside the church. An overview of this work is being undertaken by interpretation consultant, Lynda Burns. The Trust welcomes the receipt of any snippets of material or photos that will ensure we preserve as much history of the area as remains.


Martin Cordes has done a wonderful job in handcrafting four new pews - authentic replicas of the original four. When the church was built, the pews were fastened to the walls and had only one end at the aisle. However, when the building was used as a gallery, the pews were removed from the walls and the original eight made into four free-standing ones. It was decided to add to these in the same pattern and stain them to match. Martin, who works for Fairlie builder Garry Harris, has made an excellent job of the pews and all that has to be done now is to ensure they are regularly filled!


Remember the church is open seven days from 10 am to 4 pm, and by  request. The key is held next door by Helen and John Harry.  There are plans in the pipeline to hold services at the church and the Trust is inviting any ideas for these. When you visit, don't forget to sign the visitor's book. This is providing an important record for the Trust. Already it contains numerous signatures from NZ and overseas tourists who have not only added to the coffers with their donations, but who have been charmed by the location and spiritual qualities of the church. They appreciate the fact that the building is open and that they can sit and enjoy the quiet simplicity of the place. Their overall feeling is one of finding a little hidden treasure.


A big thank you must go to John Harry, the church neighbour, who has not only put up stock-proof fencing to protect the historic wooden building, but also indented his gateway to give better access and add to the off-road parking. This was no easy task considering the stony nature of the ground and having to dig between 120-year-old pine tree roots. Thank you also to those who also offered their assistance.
Stephanie Cordes form Fairlie must also be thanked for kindly donating to the Trust the church's original organ. Made in Dunedin by Chas Begg, this beautiful organ is in excellent condition and has been returned home, for which we are most grateful. It is hoped to find an expert who can assess its inner workings and sound when finances allow. It will be fantastic to again hear music from this organ ring throughout the little church.


Within the Burkes Pass Cemetery are the remains of some of the early pioneers who played an important role in opening up the vast Mackenzie Country. It is, however, not always possible to identify the "who's who" on a passing visit. Many of those buried in the grounds arrived from distant lands and were key players in establishing the spirit and social fabric of the community that survives today. These settlers never returned to their homeland but rest in the Burkes Pass Cemetery and it is now time to record their remarkable lives.
Liz Angelo-Roxborough, of Burkes Pass, plans to write a guide to the cemetery with information on those who rest there. If anyone has family or friends buried there or has information on some of the older personalities or unmarked graves, they are invited to contact Liz to ensure this information is recorded for posterity. Either email or write to Liz, c/o 41 Kirkwood Avenue, Christchurch 8004.


 And just a reminder. Check out the

Best wishes,

Jane Batchelor (chairperson)

Alma Cottage
Burkes Pass
Postal Address: 41 Kirkwood Ave,
Christchurch 8004.
Phone: (H) 03 348-1531, (W) 03 355-8283, fax; 03 355-8289,