Preserving Te Kuiti's heritage, one building at a time

by Kate Milliken / 07 April, 2018

Chairman of the Te Kuiti and District Historical Society, Russell Aldridge, inside the restored Te Kuiti railway cottage. Photo/Ken Downie.

Russell Aldridge is on a mission to preserve Te Kuiti's heritage.

Born and bred in Te Kuiti, 85-year-old Russell Aldridge has a special affiliation to the rural King Country town. And as chairman of the Te Kuiti and District Historical Society, he’s dedicated to preserving the heritage buildings he and his own children have grown up around.

One of the society’s most celebrated projects is this immaculately restored railway cottage, which was donated by members of the public in 2006 and had been “badly let go”. The society spent 12 months “putting it together properly”, says Aldridge, and the cottage is now brimming with 1920s memorabilia.

Meticulous attention has been paid to detail: when wallpaper from that era couldn’t be found locally, it was imported from Canada. The matai flooring, although original, has been spruced up. “It’s a bright-red colour and has come up really nicely.”

Te Kuiti, like many towns across the North Island, was home to many workers while the railway was being built. “It’s marvellous the number of people who have gone through here, especially during the railway era; it was a much bigger town then than it is now,” says Aldridge, who used to own a transportation company, shifting goods and livestock for local farmers.

While the historical society plays a big part in restoring heritage buildings, Aldridge also acknowledges “immense support” from local firms and, in particular, John Thom, who has supplied all the paint. Next up is the restoration of the town’s old two-storey post office, which will be turned into a museum.

Last May, the society hosted “a bit of a party” to mark the 10th anniversary of the railway cottage being unveiled to the public (it’s now open daily from 11am until 3pm). And if you’re thinking of popping into Te Kuiti for a visit, Aldridge suggests planning a trip when the “Great New Zealand Muster” is on (this year’s is on April 7). “That’s when the town really comes alive.” 

<p><em><strong>This was published in the February 2018 issue of North &amp; South.</strong></em></p>
<p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/page.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fnorthandsouthnz%2F&amp;tabs&amp;width=600&amp;height=154&amp;small_header=true&amp;adapt_container_width=true&amp;hide_cover=true&amp;show_facepile=true&amp;appId=400649490317892" width="600" height="154" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe></p>

Latest

Should we bring our fallen soldiers home?
90004 2018-04-25 00:00:00Z Television

Should we bring our fallen soldiers home?

by Fiona Rae

One of our most successful writers visited six countries to speak to the families of those buried in Commonwealth war graves.

Read more
This may be the most beautiful natural history documentary ever
90022 2018-04-25 00:00:00Z Television

This may be the most beautiful natural history doc…

by Fiona Rae

Will Smith and Darren Aronofsky come together to create a jaw-dropping documentary about Planet Earth.

Read more
Lest they forget: Anzac books for children and young readers
90033 2018-04-25 00:00:00Z Books

Lest they forget: Anzac books for children and you…

by Ann Packer

In time for Anzac Day, books for younger readers make war stories easy to digest.

Read more
Scout cafe owner Roger Liu opens Woolfy’s, a new place to eat in east Auckland
90050 2018-04-24 14:22:44Z Auckland Eats

Scout cafe owner Roger Liu opens Woolfy’s, a new p…

by Kate Richards

East Auckland gets a new cafe, Woolfy's, from the brains behind Scout in Torbay.

Read more
How to find your family's Anzac history online
90042 2018-04-24 13:16:14Z History

How to find your family's Anzac history online

by Peter Griffin

As Anzac Day looms there’s an opportunity to delve into millions of World War I documents, which are available for a limited time.

Read more
Grey District's retiring mayor Tony Kokshoorn, the accidental author
90027 2018-04-24 11:31:52Z Profiles

Grey District's retiring mayor Tony Kokshoorn, the…

by Clare de Lore

Grey District's long-serving mayor, Tony Kokshoorn, is retiring from politics next year. We look back at a 2016 profile from the Listener archives.

Read more
The Australian Government has gone to war with itself
89860 2018-04-24 00:00:00Z World

The Australian Government has gone to war with its…

by Bernard Lagan

Sydney swelters and the ruling Liberal Party is bitterly divided between progressives and pro-coal conservatives.

Read more
Why Witi Ihimaera wants New Zealand to bring its war dead home
89883 2018-04-24 00:00:00Z Profiles

Why Witi Ihimaera wants New Zealand to bring its w…

by Clare de Lore

Witi Ihimaera's journey to Commonwealth war graves for a new documentary, In Foreign Fields, is both personal and political.

Read more