Wairarapa Catholic church empty, earthquake-prone, vandalised

Catholic church

A former Catholic church on the main road through Carterton is dismally neglected.

Since the Catholic Parish of the Wairarapa sold the property in 2021, the once cared-for Catholic church is now seen as an eyesore.

Rubbish, debris and overgrown leaves surround the now-empty St Mary’s church on the corner of King Street and SH2 – Carterton’s High St.

Worse, it has been subjected to several break-ins, graffiti and arson says the new owner Westwood Land Developments Limited.

The stained glass windows are no more. Parishioners had donated those. Shards are scattered in bushes growing along the stone building’s sides.

Although the police were notified and some young culprits were caught, the damage remains.

Police enquiries are continuing.

Distressed locals

The former Catholic church has become the subject of a “larger debate” among Carterton residents. The Wairarapa locals have various concerns about it, according to online comments.

Some are upset that the church has been left to fall into disrepair. Others are concerned about alleged break-ins and how safe the structure is.

The real estate listing from 2022 says the structure is earthquake-prone. At this stage no earthquake strengthening has been carried out.

When approached, the Carterton District Council said the church’s exterior is not a Council matter unless it is in breach of the Wairarapa Combined District Plan.

“It is up to the building owner to maintain it how they see fit, within the scope of the district plan” it said.

However, some practical help is on offer to improve the property’s street view, with local businesses offering gardening services free of charge.

The developer

Despite rumours about the fate of the former Catholic church, the new owner and developer is keeping quiet.

Westwood says it cannot comment as it is still “undecided”.

In the meantime however work is underway in the background. “Engineers are currently exploring the options for strengthening the building,” Westwood says.


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News category: New Zealand.

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