Taihape's Heritage Group is pushing to restore the town historic Memorial Park Grandstand.

A petition will be presented to Rangitīkei District Council on Thursday afternoon asking that the 96-year-old grandstand be restored to its full purpose and functionality by asking the council to place new facilities under the seating area.

Rangitīkei Mayor Andy Watson said the council had worked with numerous groups in the Taihape community for several years to try to resolve issues with the park and on the basis of these public consultations the decision was made to build a single-storey toilet, shower and changing block near the southern end of the rugby field.

The heritage group's Geoff Duncan said the group believed that to spend more than $1 million of ratepayers funds on a separate ablutions block build and then leave the grandstand to flounder is "nonsense and lacks all efficiencies".


"It is clear also that there is simply not the wealth to do both," Duncan said.

"The building has functioned over the years as a pivot for events. The large ground floor area can accommodate a sizeable shower area, up to six changing rooms and toilets, catering areas, medical rooms and storage. But also seating a good number of people at an elevated level out of the rain or sun."

He said the grounds are still very well used throughout the year with 18 to 20 weeks straight of rugby matches both on weekends and then used again for mid-week practices.

"Sport is a large part of Taihape lives and provides a sense of community, which is shared with many visitors."

The Taihape Heritage Trust said the grandstand means a lot to the people of Taihape. Photo / Supplied
The Taihape Heritage Trust said the grandstand means a lot to the people of Taihape. Photo / Supplied

But Watson said the grandstand was not fit for use.

"You have organisations like the rugby saying 'hey, they don't want teams to come to our district because they're not prepared to use the grandstand and the power is an issue, heating associated with that'."

He said the grandstand is also earthquake-prone.

"The moment you start doing any work on the grandstand you trigger the need for full compliance with the act."


Duncan said the trust was also responding to community concern and interest around the preservation of one of its key historic buildings.

He said there are only three buildings recorded by the council as having significant heritage status; St Mary's Catholic Church, St Margaret's Anglican Church and Majestic Theatre.

Rita Batley, chairwoman on behalf of Taihape Heritage Trust, said the Taihape Memorial Park Grandstand and the Town Hall were both public buildings of major significance to the town and its people.

Trust member Peter Kipling-Arthur said it had been in communication with the council regarding its intentions and plans for the Memorial Park Grandstand and is endeavouring to co-operate with the council to create a feasible plan for Taihape's public heritage buildings.

"The heritage group hope that the council and community can work co-operatively to achieve the goal of retaining the grandstand as a functioning historic building."