Category Archives: 2013

New Zealand’s Island Fortress

Another victim of the earthquakes, this historic wartime island was once used as a quarantine station, Maori fortification and a defence against Russian attacks.

On arrival and after a short swim across to the island we navigated our way up the steep barbed wire bank. Once inside the fort we were met by a beautifully designed historic fort which included a labyrinth of tunnels with torpedo and mine stores. The two disappearing guns on the fort were completed in 1895 and were never actually used to fire a shot in their years as part of the island fortification.

We hope they can restore this unique part of New Zealand’s history once again for visitors to appreciate it.

 

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The Farm

Inside an abandoned former catholic girls school/farm/’rehabilitation unit’ we visited in mid 2013. Founded by a French sisterhood in 1953 -“the girls who came into the care of the sisters often had problems that could not be resolved in their normal environment and needed the loving care of others to restore their sense of self-worth.” The first residents stayed at the ’13’-room Manor built by its previous owner; and over the years the Catholic order embarked on a building program that included a 25-girl dormitory, two-story working/training block, visitor accommodation and sports facility. The last building was an expanded convent for the growing number of sisters at the facility. At it’s peak there were apparently up to 50 nuns in the house, and at least 70 girls. The farm/school/borstal/convent finally closed down in the early 1980’s.

A re-posted video of Petone College from early 2013. This former high school- abandoned, vandalized and the victim of numerous arson attacks- has finally been euthanized to make way for a retirement village. Escuela Mala loosely translates as “bad school” in Spanish.

One of our old haunts has finally been demolished. Hutt Valley High School (formerly Petone Technical College) was closed in 1998, but partially used up until 2002. The site had been heavily vandalized over the years and targeted on a number of occasions by arsonists- most recently this past January. This last fire was the nail in the coffin for the former school. The remaining buildings were demolished last month to make way for (ironically) a retirement village.

 

 

 

 

 

Carpe Diem

This former high school closed in 2007, and despite more than $85,000 spent on security since, fed-up residents have arranged patrols after systematic vandalism and theft. A poster in one of the classrooms ironically proclaims “seize the day”- yeah right… The New Zealand Government is currently trying to offload 52 closed schools. Doing so is more complex than selling a private home, and steps required under the Public Works Act can cause big delays. Obstacles to sale include locating former owners and their successors if the land was gifted, or for the right of first refusal, and complex Maori land claims. But for local residents the delays further the pain of school closures, as past community hubs turn into eyesores.