Restoration too tall an order

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When Zhang Wei bought the Junction Hotel in 2002, he had grand plans to restore the building to its former glory.

But the project was far bigger than he anticipated and he is selling the long-vacant, dilapidated building.

The Oamaru Mail understands the sale of the category 2 historic building to a local buyer was being finalised this week. The new owner declined to be named, or comment when approached by the Oamaru Mail.

Mr Wei and his daughter Siana Wei have been busy clearing out the building in recent weeks and sending furniture and other belongings to be stored in Picton.

”He always wanted to buy an old building like this and do it up _ and everything was cheaper back then,” Miss Wei said.

”There were big plans to renovate and Dad was buying all the bits and pieces, but the thing is he doesn’t speak [English].

”He didn’t have the time, the energy or the knowledge to actually do it. It was a bit difficult.

”It is a big job, much bigger than he expected.”

The family lived in the hotel for six months shortly after buying the building.

”But my father was going back and forward to China and the job just got too big, so it didn’t work out, unfortunately.”

There had been some vandalism to the interior and exterior of the building but it was in much the same state now as it was in 2002.

”Structurally, it is pretty good,” Miss Wei said.

The family have their own furniture removal truck for the move and have spent the past several weeks cleaning out the building.

Some of their possessions have been passed on to the new owner, who, the Wei family understands, will be restoring the building.

The Junction Hotel was built in 1879, commissioned by former policeman John McKay, and used as accommodation and a bar.

Its patrons would have largely been drawn from the nearby saleyards, where South Hill New World sits today.

The building has also been used as a grocery shop, a bookshop, a boat repair shop and a bottle store.

Heritage New Zealand described the Junction Hotel as a significant landmark at the southern entrance to Oamaru.

”In design and decoration it is similar in style to the Oamaru stone buildings which the town is renowned for,” the Heritage New Zealand website reads.

”Its positioning on a prominent hilltop site is an indication of its past use for accommodation largely by visiting farmers, due to its proximity to grazing and the saleyards for stock, and en route to nearby Kakanui.

”The story it tells of financial difficulty and bankruptcy of owners is one not always as evident in stories of our colonial past.

”Its subsequent history and particularly the de-licensing as a result of the vote for No License in 1906 gives an interesting indication of the effects of prohibition with the building rendered useless for its original function as a licensed premises for the next 50 years.”

Earlier this year, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the Junction Hotel was seen as a gateway to Oamaru’s heritage buildings.

”To have it refurbished and back in everyday use would be a fantastic opportunity.”