Heritage listing for Taihape Memorial Park Grandstand

A place of special esteem, the Taihape Memorial Park Grandstand has been listed in the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero, as a Category 2 historic place.

A wooden grandstand waits before a bright green field.
Taihape Memorial Park Grandstand. Photo: Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taongaexpand/collapse

The grandstand on Kokako Street was built in 1924 and reflects the development of sports and recreation in Aotearoa New Zealand during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

With sport a popular past time in the rural town, Taihape’s ‘Oval Domain’ was the proposed location for a new grandstand following WWI, and was at one stage suggested as a fitting war memorial, but this did not come to fruition. The grandstand wasn’t erected until 1924 after the Taihape Borough Council sought plans and specifications as part of further ground improvements.

The Rangitikei Agricultural and Pastoral Association was reportedly the first ’organised body’ to use the grandstand during their annual show in 1925, but many groups and associations have made use of it over the years and it has been the venue for numerous civic events.

The grandstand has had a close connection with local rugby clubs – the Taihape Rugby and Sports Club, and Utiku & Old Boys Rugby Football Club. Spectators have filled the grandstand with players utilising the facilities underneath.

Peter Kipling-Arthur of the Taihape Heritage Trust, which put forward the listing nomination, commented that the Trust has worked hard for several decades to save listed heritage buildings in the region, such as the Majestic Theatre. “We are delighted Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga has listed the grandstand. The Taihape Heritage Trust is working to promote the preservation of other historic sites including the iconic Town Hall and Library.”

Peter invites others to see the value in heritage recognition, “we encourage both private owners and the Rangitikei District Council to extend heritage listings and protection of heritage buildings and places in the District Plan.”

The future of the grandstand is being investigated. Anticipated strengthening works and ongoing community support will help ensure its preservation for future generations to enjoy.

“Taihape is a microcosm of small town architecture and has shown changes in style over the last 130 years. Keeping the grandstand will help preserve the heart of rural New Zealand,” says Peter.

The full Taihape Memorial Park Grandstand report will be available via our website from late January. 

David Watt