Like most of rural New Zealand the Rangitīkei has many beautiful old buildings that are an earthquake risk, and recent changes to legislation on earthquake prone buildings have meant big challenges for many rural towns.

But for Bulls it has resulted in a warm tale of community spirit, proving that Bulls is more than just a turn-off.

Rangitīkei Mayor Andy Watson is the first to point out that Bulls is in a high risk part of the country for earthquakes.

"We had a tight timeframe and unfortunately a number of our council buildings were impacted by the impending legislation," he said. "Effectively with council buildings we have seven and a half years to replace a town hall and library."


"The town looked at all of the options around whether you repair things, whether you earthquake-strengthen, and having looked at the cost of earthquake-strengthening, which of course doesn't mean that something is fit for use either, the town decided that the best facility would be a new facility incorporating all of these features."

While the community centre will include many council facilities, it also services a large catchment area.

"Our district is one of the largest land districts in New Zealand," Watson said. "Not so many people but lots of sheep and cattle and space and beautiful stunning scenery.

one roof

"We have Marton, Bulls and Taihape, and they are a reasonable distance apart."

Watson is hoping Marton organisations will come down and use the facilities, including a library and town hall with seating for over 300 people.

"It will have an area in the library that you can look over and see performances. It will have the normal council facilities in terms of where do you pay your rates, where do you make inquiries."

Funding or the new facility is from a loan and rates, with a lot of local fundraising to make up the balance.

Realising it would take more than a sausage sizzle, Councillor Jane Dunn took on the bold plan of finding a house they could do up and sell, with the proceeds going towards the community centre.


The council donated a section, a local house relocation business found them a house and local tradespeople came forward with offers of work.

"We do have a really lovely community here in Bulls," Dunn said.

"It was fantastic. It's taken about 10 months from start to finish."

Watson agrees.

"Bulls is one of those special communities, I mean look at the process around this house build. Where else in the country could you get all of the tradespeople who say 'I'm going to come and do the plumbing', 'I'm going to do the electrical stuff' and 'I'm going to do the drain digging and the painting and the plastering' and it goes on and on and on.

"It was all the suppliers, so the electrition said we'll do the work but went to all of their suppliers and said this is a special project in a cool community, let's make it possible."

Now finished on Walton St, the house Bulls built will be auctioned on-site on November 2. Check out the listing on

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