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National will support the preservation of New Zealand’s historic buildings with a $30 million investment in quake-strengthening work.

“We recognise the importance of heritage buildings to our communities and the real need for funding to help with the financial burden of earthquake strengthening,” Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Maggie Barry has announced.

“A National Government will invest an additional $30 million over the next four years into the Regional Culture & Heritage Fund to support quake strengthening and development of cultural facilities such as museums, art galleries and theatres.”

The criteria for the fund will also be expanded so it can be accessed by heritage-listed places of worship in need of strengthening.

“St Mary’s Cathedral in New Plymouth and the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo are two of the buildings which could benefit from the change and will be identified as priorities under National,” Ms Barry says.

“Whether you’re a religious person or not, historic churches and other places of worship are central parts of a community’s character. They are landmarks, venues and meeting places for many people and among our grandest and most architecturally significant buildings.

“Several high-profile heritage-listed places of worship in New Zealand require earthquake strengthening. Often, the cost of work is higher than for other types of building because heritage elements need to be preserved.

“For example, St Mary’s Cathedral, the oldest stone church in New Zealand, requires millions of dollars in strengthening work. They could be eligible for around a third of the cost of that work through the extended Fund.”

The Regional Culture & Heritage Fund has delivered support for facilities such as Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery, the Hawkes Bay Opera House and the ASB Theatre in Blenheim.

The new funding injection will be added to the ongoing appropriation for the Fund, raising it to an average of $13.7 million a year, or $54.8 million in total over the next four years.

“The Regional Culture & Heritage Fund remains a fund of last resort, and applicants will have to show they have already secured funding from local government and philanthropic contributions on the “a third, a third, a third” principle – that won’t be changing,” Ms Barry says.

“Applications go through a rigorous independent assessment process through the Ministry for Culture & Heritage to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money from the investment.”

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