Waihi church’s fate re­mains un­cer­tain

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - PROP­ERTY

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.

PHO­TOS: TRADE ME/SUP­PLIED

The in­te­rior of Waihi’s St James’ Pres­by­te­rian Church.

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