Heritage park invite snub

Peeved: Rees researcher Richard Thomas

A descendant of Queenstown’s founder is miffed she wasn’t invited to the opening of a heritage park in his honour.

Kapiti Coast-based Rosemary Marryatt, a great-granddaughter of William Rees, successfully badgered the council and developer of the Lake’s Edge subdivision to preserve his 1860s dairy and meat shed.

Earlier this month, local mayor Jim Boult officially opened Rees Homestead Park, beside the Hilton hotel complex.

Marryatt, 76, who’s also the family historian, says she’s “terribly disappointed” she wasn’t invited “after all the time I’ve spent on phone calls and emails and goodness knows what chasing up the conservation [of the last buildings on the site of Rees’ former homestead].

“It was quite a battle, I couldn’t believe it took so long for people to realise it was quite important.”

British-based Rees researcher Richard Thomas, who supported Marryatt’s campaign, coincidentally flew into town the same day as the opening ceremony, which he only heard about afterwards.

Not inviting Marryatt was “a lost opportunity to promote local heritage”, he says.

Local council parks planning manager Stephen Quin says the opening was organised at short notice to come under the umbrella of Parks Week.

“It was an informal occasion with a simple ribbon cutting by the mayor.

“Had there been a more formal function we would certainly have invited descendants of William Rees, acknowledging their attachment to the site.”

Quin says he’s sending Marryatt photos of the restoration job.

Despite the snub, Marryatt says she’s delighted with the new park which she’ll visit later this year.

She’s especially pleased with the hedge, planted from cuttings from the original, overgrown laurel hedge.

She gives “full marks” to developer Winton Partners NZ for honouring a condition of the original owner’s 2005 resource consent.

“They set aside a whole section which I guess they could have sold for $1.5 million to $2m.”