Austrian heritage marked by school seat
Titahi Bay’s strong Austrian heritage was recognised by the unveiling of two bench seats at Ngati Toa School on March 26.
The seats mark a spot in history that brought local iwi and a group of Austrians together in the late 1940s when there was a shortage of state housing.
The Government sought to combat the problem by importing several hundred pre-cut, manufactured homes from Austria, with Austrian workers moving to New Zealand to help build them.
Today these houses are found in several streets, including Whanga Cres, Piko St, and Te Pene Ave, as well as others surrounding the school.
Principal Kaye Brunton said the two communities must have had quite a connection when the area was set up and it was great to commemorate it after several decades.
‘‘ Over the past few weeks, students have been learning about their communities and who lives in them,’’ she said.
Brunton said the seats project had helped pupils learn more about the community they lived in and those who were part of establishing it.
Members of the Austrian Club Wellington were welcomed to the school to view the seats and among the group was Karl Simonlehner, the son of one of the men who helped build some of the houses.
According to Simonlehner, the houses were well designed and solidly built, and many of the original residents’ families still live in them.
The project was organised last year, and the seats have been accepted as treasure of the school.