Pain farm on Lake Ferry Rd. GRAPHIC/SUPPLIED

Major repairs needed to Pain farmhouse, cottage
‘Constant, costly maintenance’ required to maintain buildings

STEVE RENDLE
steve.rendle@age.co.nz

The shabby state of a farm first bequeathed to South Wairarapa District Council more than 80 years ago has Martinborough Community Board wanting answers on how it has reached its current condition.

Pain Farm, on Lake Ferry Rd, was bequeathed to Martinborough Borough Council in a will by George Pain, made in 1932.

Pain died in 1937, with his wife retaining a life interest in the property until her death in 1960.

It was passed to the district council in 1989.

But a report requested by the board, which met last night, tells a story of poor pasture quality and a farmhouse and cottage in dire need of repair.

One option, to consider the sale of the two buildings has created consternation on social media, though this would require High Court approval to change the terms of the bequest.

Since it was passed to the council, the property has generated considerable income which is required to be spent on parks and recreation facilities.

The planned Waihinga Centre playground, for instance, received $200,000 from the Pain Farm trust.

Community board chairwoman Lisa Cornelissen said the suggestion that the farmhouse and cottage could be sold had come out of the blue.

“That is the first time the suggestion that anything could be sold has appeared on a piece of paper, and it has certainly generated quite a lot of interest,” she said.

“But that is the role of [council] officers … to come back with options.”

She said the board needed more information, particularly around the cost of repair and refurbishment of the farmhouse and cottage.

“I am sure that it is one thing as a board we will be asking for.”

Cornelissen said the state of the farmland was also a concern.

“We hadn’t had a report on the state of the farm for some time,” she said. “That is one of the reasons we asked for the report.

“From our point of view, we had concerns about it.”

The farm has been re-leased, creating an annual income of $66,000, but the most recent farm report tells of poor pastures, and up to half the sheep yards requiring replacement.

The farmhouse and nearby cottage were in worse condition, with officers reporting the house needs painting and leaks in four places into the hallway.

“The house has ceiling insulation, but apparently it hasn’t been possible to get under the floor to place insulation there – this will be investigated, as in a house of this age and style it should be possible to get under it,” the report stated.

The lack of underfloor insulation is potentially in breach of new government legislation for landlords.

SWDC chief executive Harry Wilson conceded the buildings needed more than routine maintenance.

“It has been brought to my attention by our relatively new amenities manager that the farm, with its homestead and cottage, require some maintenance and repair; in particular to the accommodation buildings, to bring them up to the standard required under new government regulations,” he said.

“Minor maintenance has been done in recent years, however, the buildings are both of an age that means they require constant, costly maintenance.

“The important thing is that I am now aware of the work that needs to be done and we can work with the Martinborough Community Board to establish the best course of action for the estate and the community.”

The cottage is rented out on a permanent basis on a subletting agreement with the main house tenant, and also requires considerable work “as rotten weather boards have fallen off exposing the internal lining”.

In addition, “outbuildings are falling over due to age or doors are rotting”.

Gardens were also in a poor condition.

Council officers suggested two options – bringing the Pain Farm home and cottage “up to a standard that SWDC would be proud of” and investigating whether it was feasible to sell the house and cottage, and surrounding land designated to the farmhouse.