Buildings’ origins beg investigation

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It is no secret that Central Otago is rich in history.
From the goldmining era, when some of today’s quietest towns were bustling metropolises, to the education system, under which there were schools in every community, no matter how small, this place is full of stories. Times have changed in many ways and in some cases time has stood still, particularly for old buildings that no longer serve the same purpose they were built for, or, in some cases, any purpose at all.
The team at The News will unearth some of that history as part of a new series, to showcase buildings that once served a very different purpose from what they do today.

Our series starts with Matakanui School, where 70 children once learned and played.
The large old wooden building has stood the test of time, but the same cannot be said for its role in New Zealand’s education system.
The school was shifted by sledge to Matakanui from Thompson Creek, near Drybread.
Initially, Matakanui was called Tinkers, but by the time the school opened in its new location in 1894, the name had officially been changed.
Matakanui School featured two rooms and had a healthy roll of 70, but the number of pupils steadily declined.

Eventually, a suggestion was made to move one of the rooms to Spottis Creek School, which the Matakanui School committee protested against.
The committee believed if the school got six more pupils and two teachers, the two rooms would be required.
However, Matakanui School lost its fight and in 1924 one of the rooms was relocated to Spottis Creek School.
By 1936 Matakanui School had just nine children on its roll and it eventually closed in 1945.
The remaining building is used for farming purposes.

Now . . . The school closed in 1945 and the building is now used for farming purposes. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON