Te Awamutu library hosted historian Alan Hall on Wednesday night as he educated members of the community about local heritage buildings.

Alan's talk was titled New Wine in Old Bottles and explored the early development of Te Awamutu, using stories about some of the older commercial buildings still standing.

In 2017, the Te Awamutu Genealogy group began investigating the history of Te Awamutu's commercial buildings for their Building Social History project.

"What's really occurred to me is that buildings are just shells and over time they are modified, they are adapted and there are different activities that go on in them. Some of the buildings have had some quite big changes to them and sometimes the business now has nothing to do with what the place was built for," said Alan.


"I regard them as being like bottles, where the contents are changed along the way. Hence, New Wine in Old Bottles."

Each year the genealogy group have investigated a set of about 10 buildings and held an annual display at the library. To date they have investigated 26.

People are encouraged to attend with many bringing in photographs and telling stories of the buildings, which is added into the group's project. Waipa District Council has funded community consultations.

The talk started from the 1881 development of Te Awamutu. The Central Business District at that time was located mainly along Arawata Street and the beginning of Sloane Street.

Alexandra Street was only partly commercial as the mission owned most of it until 1906 and most developers didn't want leasehold land.

Historian Alan Hall during Heritage Month. Photo / Supplied
Historian Alan Hall during Heritage Month. Photo / Supplied

Te Awamutu's oldest commercial building still standing is Rickit's Building, built in 1890 on Sloane Street. Another part was later added to the right of the original building.

The words 'C.T. Rickit & Sons' are painted over but still visible on the front of the building.

The building is now the location of Dollar City and formally Betta Electrical.


The Rickits lived in the top story and had a shop on the ground floor.

Out the back there was a lean-to where Arthur Warburton, Waipa Post and Te Awamutu Courier founder, had his first printing press before his newspaper days.

A further display about a few other heritage commercial buildings being investigated will be held in November.

Alan and colleague Sandra Metcalfe will be taking three hour-long walks through the CBD to identify the buildings and significant features to highlight their importance in the town.

There was originally only one tour, but the community showed so much interest that the first two were booked out and a third had to be added.

The walks are on consecutive Fridays, February 14, 21 and 28. All hoping to attend must register online.