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Featherston landmarks get cash boost

Featherston’s World War I memorial. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM



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Featherston’s World War I memorial. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

Three Featherston landmarks will receive a long-awaited makeover after a $400,000 cash boost from central government.

The town’s World War I memorial, Anzac Club buildings, and community centre have all won grants from the Provincial Growth Fund [PGF].

They are three of 37 town halls, war memorials, and other community assets across the country set for more than $12million in renovations from the PGF.

The money comes from a $600 million kitty for projects with immediate job and economic benefits as part of the covid-19 recovery.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said town halls, and war memorials were “an integral part of any community and many of them in the regions have fallen into disrepair”.

“People in the regions should have facilities and memorials they can be proud of and which reflect the communities they are in.

“This will reap huge benefits and gives people renewed pride in where they live.

“At the same time jobs will be created for local tradies and contractors displaced by the economic impact of covid-19.

“Although many of the jobs will be short-term, workers will typically be involved in a number of different projects in their region.”

The South Wairarapa town is a haven for historians, with a museum complex at its heart and a series of heritage buildings and places of interest.

That has been recognised in the latest announcement of government funding.

More than $224,000 will go to renovation works for the memorial, for earthquake strengthening of columns, beams, stone inlays, and plaster work.

Another $110,000 will be used for renovations to the town’s community centre.

And almost $80,000 more will go towards repairs and refurbishments at the Anzac Club buildings.

In March, the memorial, on Fitzherbert St, was confirmed as a Category 1 historic place by Heritage New Zealand/Pouhere Taonga.

This means it is considered a special or outstanding historical or cultural significance or value.

It displays the names of 48 local soldiers who died in the war.

In 1950, the names of 29 World War II casualties were added.

The Anzac Club buildings, close to the memorial on the corner of Bell and Birdwood Sts, include the larger Anzac Hall and the smaller Kiwi Memorial Hall.

They were built in 1916 for army officers to socialise without “pitfalls of the towns and cities”, according to Heritage New Zealand.

During the post-WWI influenza epidemic of 1918 to 1919, it became a hospital.

Later gifted to the borough council, it was again used as a hospital in 1943, to care for the Japanese prisoners wounded in the riot at the nearby camp,

Anzac Club Society vice-president Colin Olds said the organisation was “delighted” to receive the funding.

“It’s great that funding for both the Hall and the cenotaph has been approved.

“The work at the Kiwi Memorial Hall is also crucial to ensure it continues to operate as a fulcrum of daily life in Featherston.

“However, it is important the work remains in the tone of the existing setting, and is appropriate for the heritage status of the halls.”

Society president Liz Mellish said it was great news.

“We as a board have been working hard with council to get into the position.”

The community centre, on Wakefield St, is eager to develop facilities to accommodate a growing range of services to the town.

In April, the town’s medical centre moved into custom-built premises next door, meaning an increase in traffic at the site.

The money gained from the bid will be used for the car park, as well as electrical work, painting, and asbestos testing and removal.

Earlier this week, the Times-Age revealed that Wairarapa’s councils had missed out on millions of dollars of potential central government funding.

Although Wairarapa’s southernmost town won out in the most recent announcement, Masterton’s bids for funding of three projects were not accepted.

These included $30,000 for the restoration of the Wairarapa War Memorial at Queen Elizabeth Park.



Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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