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Squatters to lose shelter

Squatters in the closed-down site of Tuturumuri School may be soon evicted.

Land Information New Zealand [LINZ] is overseeing the disposal of the closed school on behalf of the Ministry of Education [MoE], which owns the site’s buildings.

LINZ head of crown property Sonya Wikitera said the agency will offer the property to Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki Nui-a-Rua, which has right of first refusal for the property.

She said Linz is aware of an unauthorised occupation at the site and is working towards addressing it.

“Our management of the site includes regular security patrols, and our contractor informed us of the occupation,” Wikitera said.

Tuturumuri School closed in 2019 after 97 years in operation.

It opened in 1923 and boasted over 50 students in its heyday during the mid-’70s.

But in 2019, when its role of seven dwindled to just two after families moved away, MoE made the decision to close the school permanently.

The Times-Age visited Tuturumuri School on Thursday morning to try and speak to the squatters, but the site was completely empty.

Behind the overgrown bushes, a pile of rubbish sat in front of the entrance: a fridge, some drawers, a bucket, and a pile of scrap wood.

Hanging pipes and lichen were creeping over the decaying structures.

Two handwritten signs were taped to the front door: “THIS LAND IS NOT FOR SALE,” and Psalm 118: “The Lord is on my side.”

The interior of the school buildings were all empty except for a television, a bottle of Coke, rubbish from an Indian takeaway, and piles of old Western DVDs.

Power was still connected.

In the old principal’s house, washing was hanging on the line, and cushions and shoes were scattered on the living room floor.

Another room was filled with luggage including a suitcase marked with an Air New Zealand label for Dunedin Airport.

Three empty jerry cans and a broom were outside the front door.

There was no car parked outside.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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