Historic station’s future in doubt
Tawa people are likely to fight a plan to demolish their historic railway station.
A Tawa community board meeting on April 12 was told by the Wellington Regional Council that the 1937 building was likely to be replaced with a modern railway shelter.
Extensive water damage and years of neglect have caused major structural damage.
Replacing the station would cost about $600,000 and take up to three months, whereas restoration of the old building would cost at least $1.5 million and take 18 months.
Tawa commuters surveyed last week showed most supported restoration.
Maggie Love pointed out the importance of the historic building in the Tawa community.
‘‘There’s not many [historic] buildings left in Tawa – it’s sad. Either way it’s going to cost the taxpayer,’’ Ms Love said.
But retired Tawa woman Doris Kebbell said the building was past the point of being able to be restored. ‘‘We might as well do it if it needs replacing as it has to last for years,’’ Ms Kebbell said.
Tawa Historical Society chairman Bruce Murray said the railway station recalled a bygone era when rail was king and communities fought to have access to it.
‘‘If such station buildings disappear, our region loses something that will never be replaced,’’ Mr Murray said.
‘‘ We have noted the extremely positive response following the renovation and preservation of the Plimmerton Railway Station and would like to see a similar solution seriously canvassed in Tawa.’’
Wellington city councillor and Tawa resident Ngaire Best said she would love the building to remain.
‘‘I would be keen to get feedback from local community as to what their thoughts are, whether 18 months is too long to even allow us to consider rebuilding the existing building or if we are going to have to look at a more pragmatic approach.’’ Ms Best said.
Tawa’s last mayor, from 1987 to 1989, and New Zealand Historic Places Trust central region area coordinator, David Watt, said that although the building was not registered in the New Zealand Historic Places Trust national register or listed on the Wellington City Council district plan, it was of some historical importance.
‘‘I would hope the Tawa Community Board will respond strongly advocating the retention of the building as have other local authorities in the Wellington region,’’ Mr Watt said.
Wellington regional councillor Peter Glensor said the building was in very bad repair and might be beyond the point of no return.
He said that if public opinion was strongly in favour of keeping the building and the community was willing to raise some of the funds, the council might concede but because of the costs, engineering risks and time involved, it was unlikely.
At this stage the engineers had not spent the $50,000 that would be required to do a thorough check of the building.
‘‘We are very worried about lifting it up to review the piles and foundations as there is a real fear the building would dis- integrate. We regard it as an extremely bad option. When the public are talking about it, it is important they are aware of that,’’ Mr Glensor said.
The community board has called a public meeting at 4.30pm, on Sunday, May 6, at the Tawa Community Centre to discuss the plan.
The board is also open to submissions, which can be sent to community chairman Malcolm Sparrow at malcolm@ tawalink. com or by phone to Ngaire Best, phone 232 9000.
Tricky question: The historic Tawa Railway Station may be torn down and replaced with a modern equivalent.