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Call to help preserve historic Rātana church

A local “ history buff and concerned resident” has turned to the crowdfunding platform Givealittle to help members of the local Rātana Church [Te Haahi Rātana] in Masterton raise funds to complete the building’s restoration.

Masterton resident Lian Hathaway launched the page a couple of weeks ago to help raise the $20,000 needed to finish the work on the historic building located at the junction of Ngaumutawa, Upper Manaia, and Boundary roads.

The renovation costs unexpectedly ballooned when builders found rot in the walls and other structural problems during the building’s re-cladding, church committee member Terina Rimene said.

“Our Masterton morehu komiti whaiti [church committee responsible for the building] got quotes for the work to restore the building, and we had the funds for that. But when they found the other problems, the quote just got bigger.”

Most of the church’s funds have been raised through its weekly Friday Housie nights – which regularly attract more than 30 players – along with a grant for $6000 from the Trust House Foundation, and koha from the Rutene whānau and Paul Southey A1 Homes.

Applications to other local funders, including the Wairarapa Building Society and the Masterton District Council community wellbeing grant, are pending.

Appealing for donations by crowdfunding was “not something we could do”, Rimene and fellow churchgoer Karen Herbert said.

“We were just too shy, whakamā,” Herbert said. “We wouldn’t have done it. But Lian picked it up and said, ‘Well, I could do it’.”

Hathaway’s interest in helping the church, which was built in 1917 as the Solway Methodist Church, stems from her interest in local historic buildings and her belief that they need to be preserved “in place” so they can continue to fulfil their purpose.

“This is one of those iconic buildings that everyone passes,” she said. “Generations of people have grown up with these buildings around them, and they need to be preserved.

“These renovations won’t just save the building for the church, but for the whole community.”

Rimene has strong and happy memories of worshipping in the building and is looking forward to it being restored to its former glory.

“I’ve grown up in [this church],” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of āpotoro [ministers] come through, and my memories are always happy, of singing.

“Coming to church helps me reset and realign everything that’s happening with me, and I come away from here feeling like I can get through the next week.”

To donate to the project, visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/lets-not-lose-another-one

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