The Mangawhai Pioneer Village is taking shape after three more historic buildings moved to their new home in March.
The old Tara School, Post Office and Te Arai Library have been relocated to the village opposite the Mangawhai Museum on Molesworth Drive. They joined the old Mangawhai Anglican Church, originally a school, which moved to the site two years ago.
The village is part of the Mangawhai Community Park master plan, approved by Kaipara District Council in 2014. The 33-hectare park includes the Mangawhai Activity Zone, the new St John building and proposed NZ Fire Service station.
Park chair and Pioneer Village trustee Jim Wintle says the village should be open in time for summer, after landscaping and a courtyard to connect the buildings is complete. In addition to tours through the historic building, they plan to hire them out for community events, including educational trips and weddings. Jim says money raised from events will be used for ongoing restoration and maintenance of the buildings.
He says it took at least six months to prepare the foundations, piles and landscaping for the new buildings by a group of volunteers, including retired builder Bert Sainsbury.
They were transported by Haines House Haulage, Mangawhai Transport and Mangawhai Engineering. The volunteers are now restoring and strengthening the buildings to meet current and health and safety regulations.
“It’s not just a matter of saying ‘she’ll be right’, there is a lot of work involved to preserve and strengthen the buildings to make them last,” Jim says.
The 130-year-old Tara School is believed to be the oldest building in Mangawhai. Much of it has already been restored by local residents Ken and Gayle Brown.
Jim says many people in the area had a connection to the school. He attended it and so did his father. His sister was the last pupil to attend before the school closed in 1968.
“It’s very important to preserve history for the future. These buildings should last for another 100 years as long as we use them. If we leave them locked up they will just rot.”
The Mangawhai Community Park was identified as a premier reserve in Kaipara District Council’s Long Term Plan 2015-2025, with $100,000 a year allocated for five years and $30,000 allocated in 2015/16 for maintenance from the Mangawhai Endowment Account.
The land was purchased in 1979 by Kaipara District Council and adjoins the Mangawhai Golf Club, between Mangawhai Heads and Mangawhai Village.