Waihi church’s fate remains uncertain
A century-old Waikato church has sold on Trade Me, but that’s not the end of the story.
St James’ Presbyterian Church in Waihi hasn’t been used for four years because it requires earthquake strengthening.
It’s at 8 percent and it would cost about $1.5 million to strengthen and fix the rimu building to a reasonable standard.
The parish of about 40 people, mostly elderly, don’t have the resources to fix it.
The building is listed as a Category A heritage feature by the Hauraki District Council, so demolishing or moving it requires resource consent under the district plan.
It is also listed as a Category 2 historic place by Heritage New Zealand.
Marina van Steenbergen, a Hauraki District Council district planner, has been telling the parish for the past four years the church cannot be moved from Waihi, parish spokesman the Rev Rhys Pearson said.
‘‘We have tried to get the council to see reason and they haven’t.
‘‘We had two options: Let it rot or sell it and hope someone else can do something,’’ Pearson said.
So on Thursday, the church was auctioned off on Trade Me for $11,100.
Pearson believes the buyer is a Wellington property developer who plans to shift and restore it.
Hauraki District Council chief executive Langley Cavers said council staff are attempting to contact the buyer to offer information and assistance.
‘‘The new owner can apply to have the building delisted by Heritage New Zealand,’’ Cavers said.
‘‘And this would be taken into account during the resource consent process.’’
But Cavers said council will make the final decision on resource consent.
The church plans to create a community playground on the site and, further down the track, it wants to erect a community building.
The interior of Waihi’s St James’ Presbyterian Church.