Sunday, 14 October 2012

Stone Store, Kerikeri

So last week, on one of my days off work I went sightseeing round the local town and, you guessed it, I ended up at an historical building. Honestly, you really cannot keep me away. 

The Stone Store is NZ's oldest stone building. 

It was built between 1832 and 1836 and was meant to house all the produce and grain grown at Te Waimate Mission (last post). It is predominantly built of Volcanic Basalt, a durable, fire resistant material. Fire was a real risk at the mission stations and this is one of the reasons why the Store was built of stone, so that all their valuable produce would not go up in flames. 
The window surrounds, keystones, and quoins (corner stones) are of sandstone imported from New South Wales, Australia. The stonemason, William Parrot, was an ex-convict from NSW which is where he learnt his art. The building was designed by John Hobbs who was a Weslyan Missionary

It is free to get inside the ground floor, and the second and third floor displays are included in the price (NZ$10) to enter Kemp House next door (you'll have to wait for this post). The displays upstairs show an interesting and detailed account of European contact and development on NZ soil, and with the local indigenous population. The story of Hongi Hika, the chief of a local Maori tribe who came to England and took back 700 muskets after meeting King George IV, is particularly interesting. 

On the third floor it describes how the building was built and the roof itself still holds the original (there wasn't anything to tell me they aren't) timbers with the numbers written on in order for the construction team to match the correct cross beam with the correct roof truss!!!

However, as discussed in the last post, Te Waimate Mission was not as successful in cultivating crops as it was originally thought it would be, so it was predominantly used as a Kauri tree gum trading store. From 1929 is was used mainly as a trading store for general items until it was bought by NZHPT in 1976. 

Holding national and international heritage significance, the Stone Store is NZ's oldest commercial building and provides a valuable insight into the country's connection with international and national trade, as well as illustrating early colonial adaptation of local materials. Maori's who worked with the missionaries were known to have helped with the making of this building, many became fine stonemasons and carvers. 

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