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Historic church sells after $1 reserve and is Wellington bound

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St James' Presbyterian Church in Waihi has been sold after a $1 reserve online. Photo/file
St James' Presbyterian Church in Waihi has been sold after a $1 reserve online. Photo/file

A 110-year-old church that sold online after a $1 reserve looks set to move to Wellington.

The St James Presbyterian Church building in Waihi was listed for sale on Trade Me. The auction closed shortly after 11am yesterday when the church sold for $11,100 from a total of 115 bids.

Reverend Rhys Pearson said he and the church congregation were over the moon.

''I thought if it sold for $2 we would have done well,'' Mr Pearson said.

''We had articles in the local, smaller papers but nothing. Since going on Trade Me we've had more than 14,000 views and over 800 people add it to their watch list.''

Mr Pearson said the church people were delighted as many were older people not in a position to afford to fix much.

''What do you do when you can't use it, you can't fix it, and you're not allowed to demolish it?

''It's just so nice that we've found someone who will take a 100-something year old piece of history and love it as much as it deserves.''

Mr Pearson said the buyer indicated they had dealt with sprucing up old churches before and planned to move the church to the Wellington region. It's understood there are two or three people who have also indicated their interest should the initial deal fall through.

The church, made of heart rimu, was built in 1905 but has not been used since 2012 when an engineer's report found it only had 8 per cent of the strength of buildings built to the current earthquake safety standard. The church is listed as a Category A heritage feature by Hauraki District Council so demolition is not allowed. It is also listed as a Category 2 historic place by Heritage New Zealand.

To undertake demolition, the church must be de-listed and gain approval from the council.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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