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Friday, June 14, 2024
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Concern over empty church

Rubbish, debris, and overgrown leaves are what surround the now-empty St Mary’s church on the corner of King St and SH2 High St.

Shards of stained-glass windows, which had been donated by parishioners, are now scattered in the bushes that grow along the perimeter of the stone building.

The “eyesore” has become a larger debate among Carterton residents who have expressed their concerns online.

Some are upset that the church has been left to fall into disrepair while others are concerned about alleged break-ins and how safe the structure is.

Some local businesses even offered up their gardening services for free.

Rumours have swirled about what fate the church would meet but the new owner and developer, Westwood Land Developments Limited, could not comment as it was still “undecided”.

Westwood confirmed that there had been break-ins and police had been notified, with some of the young culprits being caught.

“It has been subjected to several break ins, graffiti and arson,” it said.

While searching for the new owners, Times-Age found that members of the public had also been making calls around town to try find the owners and alert them of an alleged break-in over the weekend.

Police would only provide comment with an Official Information Act [OIA] request or specific times and dates. Enquiries are ongoing.

Carterton District Council says the exterior condition of the church is not a council matter unless it is in breach of the Wairarapa Combined District Plan.

“It is up to the building owner to maintain it how they see fit, within the scope of the district plan”, it said.

The Catholic Parish of the Wairarapa confirmed that the parish no longer owns St Mary’s and hasn’t since 2021.

The real estate listing from 2022 confirms that the building is earthquake-prone. No earthquake strengthening has been done and “engineers are currently exploring the options for strengthening the building” says Westwood.

A 110-year-old residential villa was removed from the property in November 2022.

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