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Heritage railway station building heads back to the track

Having undergone significant upgrades over the past few years, Raahui Pookeka | Huntly Railway Station is one step closer to restoration as the original 1939 heritage railway building is returning to the station this week.

The return of the historic building, which has been sitting at Lake Puketirini since 2008 with the initial intention to act as the Waikato Coalfields Museum, is an integral part of the whole Raahui Pookeka | Huntly Railway Station project.

The station is a crucial stop for the Te Huia train service which connects the Waikato region to Auckland.

It provides the growing community of Huntly with a modern, high-quality transportation system, and soon will give visitors and locals the chance to find out more about the history of one of Aotearoa’s main mining areas.

In preparation for the return of the building, the railway station has been equipped with a new platform, security cameras, lighting, a park and ride service, taxi bays, passenger information display boards, and walking and cycling links.

Waikato District Council’s Project Manager James Matenga says contractors have been on site for the past few weeks to allow for the relocation of the building.

“It’s exciting to see progress being made. The relocation is a huge milestone in the project which has been years in the making,” he says.

To complement the new and improved station, the historic building will be home to a brand-new museum and will feature public toilets, meeting rooms, and cultural artwork.

Advocating for the return of the building since 2017, the Huntly Museum Committee has been working alongside Council to preserve this local piece of history.

“Our committee has been working with Waikato District Council and KiwiRail for several years to bring the historic building back to the railway yard,” says Nichola Spencer, member of the Huntly Museum Committee.

“This is very exciting as we’ve spent years meeting, planning, budgeting and designing the new museum. It will be a big milestone for our little town and very exciting to watch.

“Using the 1939 railway station building as our new premises will allow us to showcase local history including our coal mining heritage, brickworks and a rich past of community items all currently in storage.”

The new museum is expected to open to the public later in the year.