Waimate takes step back in time

01:43, Jan 31 2009
HATS AND HISTORY: Waimate mayor John Coles addresses the crowd at the re-opening of Douglas School at the Waimate Museum.

Waimate mayor John Coles addressed the crowd in a top hat and coat tails yesterday at the re-opening of the Douglas School.

Amongst the crowd women in lace trimmed blouses and white gloves had stepped back in time for the occasion. Handkerchiefs were waved and umbrellas popped up to shelter from the sun.

Waimate Historical Society president Gail Woods said it was a momentous weekend for New Zealand heritage. The war medals had returned to Waiouru Army Museum, Te Papa turned 10, and Waimate celebrated the re-opening of Douglas School.

Along with a few words from the mayor, National Party MP for Waitaki Jacqui Dean and president of the South Canterbury branch of the Historic Places Trust Alan Talbot were invited to speak.

The old reminisced on past school days and the young learnt about the adventures of their forbearers.

Douglas school was once a centre piece of the small community 17km south-west of Waimate. The school opened with a roll of 20 in 1912, shutting its doors in 1951.


The building was donated to the museum by the Mehrtens family and former pupil Martin Mehrtens reminisced about school picnics, concerts and pet days.

Leo Tangney cut the ribbon and rang the bell to mark a new life for the building as a historical showpiece for the region. Mr Tangney oversaw the restoration of the school building which was moved to the grounds of the Waimate Museum four years ago.

The classroom had been re-roofed, the fireplace rebuilt and windows fixed. Power has been installed enabling local schools to take lessons about a bygone era in the historic building.

The Waimate Historical Society also unveiled a plaque in memory of life member Murray Gardner. Mrs Woods said the plaque sitting under a tree planted by the late Mr Gardner recognised his love of history and trees.


The Timaru Herald