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Donald woolshed a taonga

Andrew Donald speaking at the opening of the Cobblestones Museum Donald Woolshed. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

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Nearly demolished in 1957, the William Donald family woolshed is restored, blessed, and open to Cobblestones Museum visitors.

It was gifted to the Greytown museum in 1970 and transported from Masterton.

The more-than 100-year-old totara building holds the Solway Press, invented by Donald Donald [born 1854] and considered one of New Zealand’s best wool press examples.

Speaking on behalf of the Donald family on Sunday at the formal opening, Andrew Donald said the honour of having his family’s woolshed at Cobblestones could have gone to many other Wairarapa pioneering farming families.

Still, he said he was pleased his family’s former shed was chosen.

“Please tell people to come and see it because we must keep the history of wool well known,” Donald said.

“Wool made the economy strong, and it is vital to keep the wool industry alive in New Zealand today.

“This woolshed is a taonga.”

William Donald has credit for bringing the first flock of Romney sheep into the country in 1842.

Cobblestones Board of Trustees chairman Chris Hume thanked the volunteers who worked to get the woolshed ready for visitors and acknowledged the $60,000 of grants it received for the project.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy also mentioned the economy was strong because of the work in the woolsheds, and on Wairarapa farms.

“The saying New Zealand was built on sheep’s backs is true,” Dame Patsy said.

She said the restoration project was testimony to what is possible when a dedicated team of volunteers come together, and she thanked them for this.

Sir Kim Workman, representing Papawai Marae and Ngati Kahungunu, blessed the woolshed in te reo Maori, and Dame Pasty then cut the ribbon to the main door.

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