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Short-term Pain for farm gain

Much needed repairs have been made to Pain Farm, near Martinborough, a major district council property. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

MARCUS ANSELM

[email protected]

Repairs to a major South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] property asset have taken a bite out of the estate’s profits.

Work on upgrades to Pain Farm near Martinborough has limited the income generated by its tenancy.

The estate is the single, most-valuable residential property owned by SWDC.

It includes a homestead, a cottage and the surrounding land.

The cottage is sub-let from the existing larger tenancy.

At last week’s community board meeting, SWDC staff recommended one of five options to members to put to council approval.

The board recommended an option to put the homestead and the cottage up for rent on the open market be put to the council.

The state of the farm had been a cause of local public dismay last year. A report to the town’s community board highlighted a state of disrepair.

Locals also said moves to sell the property should be stopped.

According to an income and expenditure report raised by officers to the town’s community board last week, more than $45,000 has been spent on the property in the six months to January 31.

Income raised on the property is just short of $49,000, the report said.

SWDC aims to have $40,000 should be available at one time for maintenance and there is plenty more – almost $200,000 – in the bank now.

But the farm’s potential $66,000 income has been clipped by the latest upgrades.

Around $10,000 had to be spent in each of the previous years, according to financial statements.

The Lake Ferry Rd site was bequeathed to the old Martinborough Borough Council by local landowner George Pain.

Pain’s original wish to have the farm made available as a sports ground and playground. A high court hearing in 1966 changed this and found that instead, income it raised should be used to maintain and improve local recreational facilities.

The borough council took ownership in 1960, and SWDC in 1989.

In recent years, the fund has backed projects in the town which uphold its core purpose. This included about $200,000 for the playground at the renovated town hall.

A July 2019 report on the state of the buildings meant SWDC was forced into further action.

The payments to contractors were part of the upgrades recommended by the board, council and officials after the initial report came to light.

The board had previously ruled out the sale of the property after the public concerns raised.

Mayor Alex Beijen said he was very happy that the farm is being administered and maintained to “an excellent standard”.

“I commend both the community board and council staff for reacting quickly and competently to the situation.”

Further work is to be carried on the homestead and cottage and SWDC officials will update the board at each of its meetings with financial statements.

A council spokesperson said SWDC “will take the opportunity in between the end of the current tenancy and the start of a new tenancy to complete internal renovations on the Pain Farm homestead”.

The council is set to discuss the recommendations at a forthcoming meeting, either on March 18 or at the end of April.

-NZLDR

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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