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Project Profile


2008 Honourable Mention

Bach 38

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Technical Brief

Conservation as a Community Exercise

Community life on Rangitoto Island has always been based on self-reliance and mutual support. Away from amenities and without the constraints of work, school, church or civil authority, the bach mentality of independence and “making-do” are treasured icons of the Kiwi holiday.

When in the 1980s a number of disused and un-leased bachs were demolished and more were in danger of being demolished in the future, the bach holders, friends and historians on Rangitoto began to fight for the extension of leases and the preservation of the structures.

In 1997, in continuation of previous joint efforts, they formed the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust (RIHCT) to preserve the remaining baches, record the histories and provide a resource for interpretation of the holiday communities.

The restoration work on Bach 38 was undertaken by volunteers, with guidance from conservation architects and other professionals. One of the trustees organized bi-weekly “working bees”, community volunteer work events, and ordered all the construction materials, which were both donated by community members and bought by the Trust. The project began on an entirely voluntary basis but attracted sponsorship in 2003.

The museum of Bach 38 is now open every weekend in summer and is manned by a separate group of volunteers. These volunteers assist with the running of the “Bach Tours and Teas”, which consist of a tour of the island’s baches followed by tea at Bach 38. 38, with its function as a museum for bach community life, is a focal point for the Trust’s communication with the local community, holiday makers and other visitors. The collection of material, oral histories and photos is ongoing and everybody is encouraged to contribute. Some information is available at Bach 38, while certain material, such as videos and magazine articles, are stored on the mainland by the trustee archivists. These materials can be accessed on request. Various items are sold at the museum, such as knitted tea-cosies, honey from the island and books; all revenues of which are retained for the upkeep of Bach 38.

To raise awareness and involve more people in the conservation of Rangitoto Island heritage, the Trust organizes public talks, operates the Bach Tours and Teas and maintains a website. This website informs the public about the history, culture and nature of Rangitoto Island, as well as past and present conservation efforts. The website also hosts a discussion forum and a platform to share memories of Rangitoto Island. Visitors can upload photos and leave comments or a story. The Trust also has a Facebook page where news about activities, events and articles are frequently posted, including information about working bees and meetings of the Trust, which are open to everyone who is willing to donate time and skills for the conservation of Rangitoto Island’s heritage.

Adapted from “Bach 38” UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards entry submission