This is the building as Mastermall. It was previously Haywrights, Wright-Stephenson and Wairarapa Farmers Co-operative Association, going back in time. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE

SAM TATTERSFIELD
Sam.tattersfield@age.co.nz

The old Mastermall on Masterton’s Queen St is all but knocked down, and owners Bosch Property Management needs new organisations to tenant the historical site before they can build anything new.

Bosch’s Gary Stewart said the company wasn’t sure who the anchoring investor would be, suggesting a government department, call centre, or corporate as options.

The site was unlikely to become retail, but Bosch was open to the idea if retail investors thought they could turn a profit there.

Declining profitability at Mastermall had been one reason the building had to come down.

“The days of the old mall, and shops within a mall, in provincial towns is pretty much a thing of the past,” he said.

“Retail’s changed considerably over the last few years.”

Struggling for profitability wasn’t even the whole problem.

“The building was actually an earthquake issue, and it couldn’t be strengthened – it was a bit of a rabbit warren – to strengthen it would’ve cost an awful lot of money and wouldn’t have really achieved anything.

“To try to tenant it would’ve been more than a nightmare.”

Even knocking the building down was fraught.

The multi-storey building was surrounded by businesses – it was between central Queen and Chapel Streets in the heart of town.

This demolition and, in some form one day, rebuild would just be the most recent chapter in an over 100-year story.

The northern half of the Mastermall building was built in 1910, and in those early years it housed the Wairarapa Farmers’ Co-operative Association.

In 1929, the southern half was built, and northern half strengthened.

A section of the site with a water tower in it was used for manufacturing until it was knocked down in the 1942 Wairarapa earthquakes.

Bosch wanted to salvage as much native timber as possible from this demolition, ending up with 10 shipping containers and 25 stackers of mostly totara and rimu timber, to be sent to Wellington.