'In need of tender loving care': Sumner park’s ‘shabby’ gates to be restored

Darrell Latham wants the St Leonards Park gates repaired as they are an important part of Sumner...
Darrell Latham wants the St Leonards Park gates repaired as they are an important part of Sumner’s history. Photo: Geoff Sloan ​
The historic gates at the St Leonards Park entrance in Sumner will finally be repaired.

Christchurch City Council community parks manager Al Hardy said city council would report to the Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board on August 26 about possible steps forward for their restoration, nine months after it was first brought to their attention.

He said the gates had been maintained on a reactive basis and were now “up for” a funding renewal to address repairs.

"It is possible to restore the gates. We are currently awaiting quotes for restoration. The work will entail cleaning off the paint, repairing cast and wrought iron components, treating corrosion and repainting,” Hardy said.

"This may or may not require their removal from the site to undertake the work.”

Community board member Darrell Latham has voiced his concern about the lack of maintenance of the gates in recent years.

"Sadly, the gates have been left to deteriorate and are in very poor condition. They are in need of tender loving care to bring them back to pristine condition,” he said.

"Paint has faded, the exterior surface is pitted with rust and in several places, the rust has completely eaten through the main pillars supporting the gates.”

The St Leonards Park gates. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The St Leonards Park gates. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Prior to his death in June 2020, Sumner resident Ross Clapp had shared his concerns about the gate’s “shabby state,” with Latham, and asked for his help in doing something about it.

In response to Clapp’s concerns, Latham had raised the issue of the gate’s disrepair with the board in October last year, hoping to see action from the city council to restore the gates or see an alternative proposed.

"From my casual observation, the gates will require considerable restoration work to restore them given the serious deterioration that has taken place,”  Latham said.

The park is actively used by Sumner residents, with cricket and rugby often played on the grass area.

The Sumner-Redcliffs Historical Society would also like to see the gate’s repaired.

"They should not have been allowed to get into that bad state in the first place,” society secretary Topsy Rule said.

"It’s just like your house, you respect it and if it’s been broken, you fix it.”

Concerns have been raised about a lack of maintenance on the rusty gates. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Concerns have been raised about a lack of maintenance on the rusty gates. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The park’s grounds were remodelled, made larger and opened in 1926. The gates were unlocked by Sumner Mayoress Mrs Nicholson.

During the unlocking, Nicholson expressed a desire the park would be a source of health and happiness for years to come.

"The gates are an excellent example of that period in our history,” said Latham.

In response to Hardy’s comments, Latham said he was pleased to learn that the gates may be restored.

However, he remained concerned about the lack of scheduled maintenance previously undertaken on the gates.

"To suggest that the gates are ‘’maintained on a reactive basis’’ is somewhat concerning,” he said.

"These gates have historical significance for Sumner residents and are part of our heritage. They should be part of a scheduled maintenance check programme.

"I doubt whether the gates of Mona Vale or the Botanical Gardens are maintained on a reactive basis.” 

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