Another village will soon be making an appearance between the townships of Mangawhai and the Heads although the dwellings may be somewhat older than most.
Mangawhai’s future attraction, a pioneer village located next to the museum, is currently under design. Restoration work on the old Anglican Church, which also had a former life as Mangawhai’s first school in Tara Road from 1894, began nearly two years ago and is nearing completion.
Friends of Mangawhai Community Park chairman, Jim Wintle, is the organisational energy behind the project. Besides liaising with council, contractors and shuffling paperwork, he also maintains a hands-on approach, literally.
“Between Bert Sainsbury and myself with a few others lending a hand now and then… we must have put in a few thousand voluntary hours over the last 18 months,” Wintle says, a former pupil of the old school although he jokingly admits to only attending ‘to make the numbers up’.
The notion of a historical village sprang from conversations between Wintle and architect David Wingate who worked on a similar venture in Tauranga.
Wintle says their idea began turning into a reality when he was offered the church after other organisations declined the building due to the cost of the necessary repairs.
“I said ‘give it to me and I’ll find a home for it’!”
Other structures destined for the village include the old Mangawhai Post Office currently sitting behind the Mangawhai library, Ivan Urlich’s 100-year-old cottage on Moir Street, and the old Te Arai library.
The vision is to have ‘a living and breathing village’ Wintle says with the buildings being available to be hired out.
“Old buildings need to be used, aired and maintained or they just rot,” he says. “The church can be rented out for weddings and events, there’s even a lot of support for it to be used as a movie theatre.”
An assembly of buildings housing an art centre offering workshops and a village square for a Sunday artisan market have also been discussed as possible attractions.
“The village may also display articles from the museum and people can donate items, even whole baches if they want them removed from a property,” Wintle says.
Once established, the Mangawhai Pioneer Village Trust will oversee maintenance of the area and managing of the funds.
Entire completion of the village is a few years away but it will be opening to the public in stages.
“Steady as she goes,” Wintle says. “By Christmas with several established buildings this space will be looking pretty good.”
BY JULIA WADE
CONCEPT: Birds-eye view of the proposed design of Mangawhai’s latest attraction, a pioneer village.