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Heritage listing for school

The old Kopuaranga School. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

KAREN COLTMAN
[email protected]

A one-room, 135-year-old school building near Mauriceville, once used to educate new Scandinavian immigrants, has finallly gained Heritage New Zealand Category 2 status.

The old building is about 16km north of Masterton on the road to Mauriceville in the area now known as Kopuaranga.

Members of the Kopuaranga Hall Society thought it was listed many years ago but an “administrative muck up” with Heritage New Zealand meant that many buildings thought to be listed were in fact not.

Society chairman Harold Devenport was pleased the school was now properly listed.

The school was built in 1885 and was designed by well-regarded architect Thomas Turnball.

The town began as a camp established in 1872 for Scandinavian migrants and it evolved into a permanent settlement.

The town was originally named Dreyerton but was renamed in 1906 when the government changed the railway station name to the Maori word Kopuaranga.

The forest Te Tapere Nui o Whatonga, also known as Seventy Mile Bush, was part of a government migration and public works programme.

Norwegian and Swedish migrants were brought to New Zealand to help fell much of the forest, which went up to Dannevirke.

“This history directly connects the school to the most numerically significant period of immigration in Aotearoa New Zealand’s history”, Heritage New Zealand central region area adviser Kerryn Pollock said.

“Northern Wairarapa is a place rich in Maori heritage, with the Rangitane ancestor being commemorated in the name of the lost forest.

“Added to this are the stories of the Scandinavian migrants who founded the settlement.”

Due to a declining roll, the school closed for good in 1975 and from 1980 has been managed by the Department of Conservation.

Artist Brendon Wilkinson leases the building and the funds go to the hall society to help it run the hall.

1 COMMENT

  1. My family, the Brady’s shifted to Kopuaranga in 1960 when my dad Les Brady became the teacher at the school. We lived next door until 1965. My Aunt was married to Alan Larsen and going through school records and others held in the bank Alan was able to trace lots of his ancestors who had worked on clearing the bush. That building holds lots of memories for our family, congratulations for the heritage status.

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