Community thrilled historic building now good as new after buyers on website turn out to be benefactors.

The picturesque Kohekohe Church could have been lost to the local community for good if it hadn't been for Trade Me.

Built in 1886, it had been unused for more than 35 years and had fallen into disrepair - but instead of an eyesore Antonella Coppolino and her business partner Patsy Deverall saw an opportunity.

The two Auckland teachers saw it listed on the online auction site the day before it went to auction in September 2012.

They decided to buy the property on the Awhitu peninsula, 20km east of Pukekohe, about an hour's drive south from downtown Auckland.


"I think lots of people toy around with the idea of maybe one day owning a structure like this," Ms Coppolino said.

"You sort of dream about these things and think, maybe one day, but the opportunity came up and we were lucky to get it."

She wouldn't say how much they paid for the church, but the government valuation was about $137,000 when it was sold.

Ms Coppolino and Ms Deverall have since fully restored it, and it is now available for weddings and other small events.

"If we hadn't done the work, the church wouldn't have lasted another winter," Ms Coppolino said.

When the pair bought the property bits of fascia were falling off and the rusty roof - often exposed to strong gale winds -was close to being blown off.

The restoration cost "at least $30,000 or $40,000" and took six months, finishing last September.

"I think these things need to be looked after," Ms Coppolino said. "They're unique to New Zealand and it's very important to take care of them."


She said news of their purchase initially worried some locals who didn't like the idea of private buyers taking control of such as a historic building. But once their restoration plans became known, reaction from the community was overwhelmingly positive.

"The community out there has been really happy that we've kept it as a church and we've restored it," Ms Coppolino said. "There was quite a lot of concern that someone was going to come in and remove it from the site or demolish it for the kauri."

The venue hosted its first wedding in October and will soon host another. There are also plans to shoot a short film in the church, and Ms Coppolino also hopes to host movie nights during winter, using the building's white walls as a screen.

"The church is definitely a focal point of the community, so we have tried to be very careful to preserve what locals cherish so much," Ms Coppolino said. "I think we have succeeded."