Two valuable heritage buildings are in line for some love thanks to Whangārei Museum and Heritage Trust's early Christmas present from the district council's Community Funding Committee kitty.

A $163,000 grant approved by Whangārei District Council (WDC) in mid-December will go on much needed work on the 1886 Clarke Homestead and the 1860 Oruaiti Chapel, both Grade 2 Heritage NZ listed buildings.

Both buildings are in the grounds of the Whangārei Museum, Kiwi House and Heritage Park, at Maunu.

Kiwi North, as the complex is known, was the first beneficiary of the new Partnership Fund established in late 2018 after WDC's Long Term Plan deliberations.


The purpose of the fund is to support the development of community facilities by local groups, supplementing funds already raised by these groups.

Added to the $45,000 already secured by the trust for the Clarke Homestead, the WDC grant brings the money in the bag up to the threshold of 33 per cent of the total cost required before the trust could apply to the Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund.

Due for much-need preservation work, historic Clarke Homestead in the Whangārei Museum's Heritage Park.
Due for much-need preservation work, historic Clarke Homestead in the Whangārei Museum's Heritage Park.

Allie Fry, Kiwi North operations director, said that with intense competition for the national fund an even higher contribution than 33 per cent for a project was a distinct advantage.

The council had also helped by bringing its funding meeting forward so the trust would make the 2019 application deadline of March.

''We are grateful to the council for bringing this matter, which was originally scheduled for their February meeting, forward to the December meeting.

''This will enable us to submit to the next round of Lotteries Environment and Heritage Fund which closes in March for further funding for the [Clarke] homestead.

''We have been able to give the go-ahead to contractors for the Oruaiti Chapel work and this is scheduled to start on January 29. We are absolutely delighted to finally be able to move these projects forward.''

Fry said the conservation work was long overdue, ''and this has been noted by our community and others''.

''We have had the plans completed for over two years but raising the funds has been a long road and we are not there yet.

''If anyone would like to contribute to the conservation project of these iconic buildings and the stories they tell of early Whangārei and Northland, to ensure they are still here for our future community and visitors, any donations to add to the fund would be very gratefully received.''

The tiny, eight-sided Orauiti Chapel was built from one single kauri tree at the Oruaiti settlement, 22km south Mangonui. Work began in 1859 and by 1861 New Zealand's smallest church was in use by local Wesleyans and Anglicans.

It was moved to a Methodist property in Kamo in 1946 and on to its present site at the museum grounds in 1976. The chapel is still sometimes used for small services such as weddings and other celebrations.

The Clarke Homestead, or Glorat, as the house and adjoining farm were originally called, was built by Scottish immigrant Dr Alexander Clarke in 1886.

Three generations of the family lived there before the buildings and contents were gifted to what was then the Northland Regional Museum in 1973.