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

by Kate Milliken / 07 April, 2018

Help us find and write the stories Kiwis need to read

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.” 

This was published in the February 2018 issue of North & South.


Latest

Lauren Southern, Israel Folau and the problem with criticising religion
93915 2018-07-23 07:12:26Z Social issues

Lauren Southern, Israel Folau and the problem with…

by Graham Adams

Is there one rule for criticising Christianity and another for Islam?

Read more
Where should we draw the line between free speech and hate speech?
93928 2018-07-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

Where should we draw the line between free speech …

by Karl du Fresne

A ban on two Canadian far-right activists speaking at Auckland Council venues has ignited the debate over hate speech and freedom of expression.

Read more
Is New Zealand a tolerant society?
93954 2018-07-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

Is New Zealand a tolerant society?

by Karl du Fresne

Offences against religious minorities suggest an undercurrent of prejudice exists in the country.

Read more
Theresa May gets Trumped in London
93853 2018-07-23 00:00:00Z World

Theresa May gets Trumped in London

by Andrew Anthony

Notwithstanding the blimp, the presidential visit proved a deflating experience in the home of football.

Read more
Win a copy of The House of Islam by Ed Husain
93910 2018-07-23 00:00:00Z Win

Win a copy of The House of Islam by Ed Husain

by The Listener

The House of Islam tells the story of the Prophet, the origins of the Quran, the Sunni-Shia schism and sharia.

Read more
A NZ director goes inside the mind of groundbreaking Chinese designer Guo Pei
93826 2018-07-22 00:00:00Z Movies

A NZ director goes inside the mind of groundbreaki…

by David Larsen

NZ director Pietra Brettkelly goes into the opulent world of Chinese designer Guo Pei in the beautifully shot documentary, Yellow is Forbidden.

Read more
Is fake meat really a threat to New Zealand's economy?
93623 2018-07-22 00:00:00Z Economy

Is fake meat really a threat to New Zealand's econ…

by Rosie Bosworth

Rosie Bosworth looks at the risk to New Zealand's economy in a post-animal world of plant-based meat and dairy products.

Read more
What is fake meat made out of?
93642 2018-07-22 00:00:00Z Nutrition

What is fake meat made out of?

by The Listener

Meatless meat is yet to get a clean bill of health. This is what Joanna Blythman found when she studied the ingredients of an Impossible Burger patty.

Read more