Aus­trian her­itage marked by school seat

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By DANIEL WHIT­FIELD

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.

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