Pil­ing on past for his­tory house

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

Asig­nif­i­cant piece of Porirua and the re­gion’s past has been moved off its foun­da­tions in or­der to dig into its his­tory and re­store it for fu­ture use.

Tay­lor Stace Cot­tage in Pau­ata­hanui dates back about 160 years. Pataka mu­seum reg­is­trar Pat Sto­dart said it could be one of the old­est wooden houses in the coun­try.

How­ever, the site is prone to flood­ing and a plan to move it and raise the ground level have been in the works for some time. Porirua City Coun­cil has con­trib­uted $50,000 to the re­moval project, and the His­toric Places Trust $60,000.

The re­main­ing cost will be cov­ered by own­ers Stephanie and An­drew Man­ning, from Whitby, who bought the cot­tage ear­lier this year.

The homestead was shifted some me­tres back from its pil­ings on Novem­ber 25 by Brit­tons House­movers, and last week Mr Sto­dart, coun­cil em­ploy­ees and com­mu­nity vol­un­teers took the chance to dig in the orig­i­nal foun­da­tions. Delv­ing into the earth could help them dis­cover more about the early in­hab­i­tants, he said.

‘‘ There was some trep­i­da­tion about mov­ing a house as old as this one but it was eas­ier than we thought in the end. By hav­ing a dig we can solve a few ques­tions about the home it­self and tech­niques that were used back then. It’s about adding to our knowl­edge. It was roughly built, some of the to­tara pil­ings are pretty un­even, but it has lasted more than 150 years.’’

Mr Sto­dart said the coun­cil’s $50,000 was bud­geted in its 10-year plan and the work would help pro­tect ‘‘ the old­est piece of Euro­pean her­itage in the city for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions’’.

He thought it would be ‘‘dread­ful’’ if the cot­tage was not still around in an­other 150 years.

Once the cot­tage was re­turned to its newly-raised foun­da­tions, Ms Man­ning said builders would carry out a 13-week re­fur­bish­ment in­side the build­ing. She and her hus­band were well aware of the her­itage value and flood­ing risk that came with the prop­erty but were keen to take it on nev­er­the­less.

‘‘We had a bit to do with the Na­tional Trust in Eng­land [that pro­tects hun­dreds of his­toric places for the pub­lic] and we just thought it would be lovely if we could help re­store some­thing like this. We want to keep it as orig­i­nal as poss- ible and have it as some­where peo­ple can stay.’’

Mr Sto­dart said it was a pos­i­tive sign that prospec­tive own­ers were not scared away by the thought of own­ing a listed build­ing.

‘‘ The coun­cil and the His­toric Places Trust have come to the party and it was great to get the Man­nings’ co-op­er­a­tion. They bought it with their eyes wide open.’’

Dig­ging around: Rus­sell Mar­shall was one of a num­ber of Porirua lo­cals who vol­un­teered their time to join Porirua City Coun­cil staff in a dig among the foun­da­tions of Tay­lor Stace Cot­tage in Pau­ata­hanui.

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