A Christchurch, New Zealand antiques dealer has been left devastated by the recent earthquakes. British ex-pats with friends and family in Lancashire have told how antique chests, rare Maori artworks and other goods worth an estimated $1m are to be buried under tons of rubble following a decision by the authorities to bulldoze the historic building to the ground.
For those who emigrated to Christchurch from towns like Preston, the Victorian dining chairs and antique desks of Derik Blackler’s shop in Tuam historic must have been a reassuring sight. He is one of the most respected antique dealers in New Zealand, with a wealth of knowledge on Colonial and Maori history. Visitors from Cumbria can see his antique chests and Maori artworks in many New Zealand museums.
Derik’s shop lies in the heritage area of the city’s inner CBD (Central Business district.) The entire area has been cordoned off by the army, with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announcing all but a few of the historic buildings will have to be pulled down. Derik’s shop is one of these, even though he, his wife and up to 80% of the stock escaped unscathed when the earthquake struck. Even Civil Defence workers say the damage is reparable, although on the one occasion Derik was allowed to return, he was mistaken for a looter.
In Preston, the Victorian dining chairs of a Christchurch antique shop may seem a long way away. However, Lancashire antique dealers are appalled at what is happening. Whether you live in Christchurch or Cumbria, the antique chests of Derik Blackler’s store can yet be saved if you petition your support on his webpage.
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