Minister stalls building shift
The Education Ministry has stalled plans to shift an historic schoolroom from Wairau Valley to Brayshaw Heritage Park in Blenheim.
Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the Wantwood Room would not be moved before a meeting between the ministry and the Wantwood Community Restoration Society.
In a letter to the society, Ms Kaye said she was "very hopeful" the ministry could work with them to resolve the problem.
A national property manager would organise a meeting in January.
Angela Woolf, of the Wantwood Community Room Preservation Society, has battled to keep the schoolroom in the township since learning in February that the ministry had offered it to the Marlborough Stamp Collectors Inc.
The ministry had even offered to pay to shift the building to Brayshaw Park.
Marlborough District Council support services manager Dean Heiford told the Marlborough Express the old room could be shifted to council-controlled land beside the Wairau Valley Hall or old tennis courts as an alternative to Brayshaw Park.
If this was what the community wanted, resource and building consents would be needed and the cost of shifting the room covered, Mr Heiford said.
Wairau Valley School commissioner Bev Moore said contracts to shift the old schoolroom to Brayshaw Park had been signed but no date set for the move.
She had looked at options for the building, including asking the Marlborough Historical Society in February if they were interested, at the suggestion of some Wairau Valley residents.
The society suggested the building could be suitable for the Stamp Club, but the ministry owned it and would decide where it went, Mrs Moore said.
Apart from society meetings last year and pet day displays, the Wantwood Room sat on the school grounds without being used by the community or school for more than 10 years, she said.
Three rooms in the township were already available to the community, including an under-used hall.
At Brayshaw Park the old schoolroom would be among other buildings of similar age and protected from fire, Mrs Moore said.
There was no historic school at the site and there were plans to set up a permanent display about education in Marlborough and connections with Wairau Valley and the Wantwood Room.
Mrs Woolf has asked under the Official Information Act for school board minutes that confirm the disputed room belonged to the community. However, Mrs Moore said the ministry owned the building and only gifted usage of it.
Mrs Woolf said posting a message on Ms Kaye's Facebook page might have prompted the associate minister to intervene.
Before then, she had written letters and emails to the Education Ministry and minister Hekia Parata, registered the society as a charitable trust, organised a petition of school parents, requested Historic Places Trust registration and lobbied Marlborough councillors and MPs.
Marlborough Historical Society president Dale Webb said so long as the building was restored, maintained and loved, where that happened was secondary.
However, small groups sometimes didn't last beyond one or two enthusiasts and the room might be safer in a grouping of protected historic buildings.
Rick Oxenham, of the Marlborough Stamp Collectors Club, said the group had been looking for rooms for several years to run its monthly meetings and store exhibition frames and books.
The club has about 50 members and 15 to 20 attended its monthly meetings.
- The Marlborough Express
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