One of the most "historically significant" buildings in the Wellington region is for sale and local historians and the city council hope new owners will carry out the restoration work it badly needs.
Taylor Stace Cottage, next to the roundabout in Pauatahanui, was built in 1847 and is thought to be the oldest surviving residential building in the region. It has been given a category 1 listing by the Historic Places Trust (HPT) and has a funding grant from the National Heritage Preservation of just over $105,000 for renovation.
For two years, till the end of May, it housed an art gallery.
It was a surprise to many, then, when the cottage was placed on the market earlier this month. When contacted, the owners did not want to speak to Kapi-Mana News, preferring not to comment about the sale or any other matters around the building's future.
According to the Professionals website the land area is 1576 sqm, the floor area is 80 sqm and it has a rateable value of $280,000.
It's well-known that the area around the building is low-lying and thus prone to flooding. A partnership established between the current owners, the HPT and the Porirua City Council has identified the work that needs to be done this includes raising the building about six metres, renovating it and landscaping the site.
HPT's representative in the Porirua basin, Roger Beauchamp, said Taylor Stace Cottage is "certainly one of the most important historical assets in Porirua and the region". Constructing the roundabout some years ago altered the water flow and heavy downpours like that on July 23 put the cottage in danger, so the sooner the work was undertaken, the better, he said.
As he understands it, the work could cost about $140,000.
"This is a historically significant property and it must be preserved. Hopefully whoever buys it will realise the historical value.
"It goes back to the 1840s, to the New Zealand Company it's the first building of any consequence that was built in the area [and] it will be a huge pity if something is not done [to fix it] soon."
PCC's environmental policy manager Matt Trlin confirmed they had set aside $50,000 towards restoration of the property three years ago "and that commitment remains in place".
Resource and building consents have been obtained so all the "legal instruments are there" to enable the work to happen.
"It's really a case of just activating the processes that are in place. We'll be happy to sit down with any new owners to achieve the ultimate outcome, which is to get the cottage looked after.
"The council will be watching proceedings with interest and it's our hope there will be someone who is dedicated to restoring this wonderful building."
Taylor Stace Cottage is part of PCC's Heritage Review Project, which is a programme for the management (including protection, conservation, restoration and enhancement) of the city's heritage.
A draft of the Heritage Management Strategy is expected this year and a list of "priority at-risk" sites has been identified: Te Pa O Kapo, Terrace Rd, Titahi Bay; Taupo Urupa, Plimmerton; Paremata Barracks, Ngatitoa Domain; Porirua Hospital F Ward building; Plimmerton Railway Station and Taylor Stace Cottage.