Piling on past for history house
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.