Foxton Historical Society has its work cut out trying to save an historic courtroom that could be up for sale after being deemed an earthquake risk.

The society has until the end of the year to come up with a plan to raise the estimated $150,000 required for earthquake strengthening, and to convince local authorities it had a viable future as a tourist attraction and home for historic documents.

The 1929 Foxton Court House Museum building was steeped in history and was currently used to house historical items with a peppercorn lease arrangement with Horowhenua District Council.

The current lease expires early next year. Horowhenua District Council was looking for expressions of interest with the view that any future buyer could retain its heritage and character.


FHS member Kiri Pepene said there was a genuine desire within the committee to save the heritage building and have it remain a space to showcase unique items of Foxton history.

She said FHS wanted to explore options such as turning into a boutique interactive museum that would attract locals and tourists, with the town's historic documents on display.

She said preserving the history of Foxton was important.

"Foxton was the birthplace of the Manawatū. The history it has is astounding and is worth saving and retaining," she said.

FHS member Jim Harper said he was confident that with hard work the building could be saved and developed into a space that could attract tourists.

"Why? Because there are great stories here to be told about Foxton that could be brought into the 21st century, both Māori and Pākehā," he said.

The courtroom was used as recently as the late 1960s as a Ministry of Transport courtroom. The FHS took over the building in 1978, and it remained largely in its original form.

The judge's bench and chair were still in the courtroom, as was his robe. Out the back was a room fitted with a dehumidifier that housed copies of the Manawatu Herald dating back more than 100 years.


FHS had a committee of eight people and a membership of more than 50. It would hold a workshop later this month to formalise future plans.