Writers’ retreat at famed Auckland author’s home draws nearer after 16-year wait
Abigail Dougherty / Stuff
Naomi McCleary of the Going West Trust hopes to have a writer in residence with Maurice Shadbolt by 2024.
The “slow” process of opening a famous author’s home as a writing retreat is getting closer after 16 years of waiting.
Titirangi’s house in West Auckland belonged to writer Maurice Shadbolt, who died in 2004. It was announced that it would become a writer’s retreat in 2006.
Now Waitākere Local Council has agreed to recommend Auckland Council to transfer the property to the Going West Trust, which runs an annual writers festival. The trust has wanted to turn the house into a retreat for years.
The house was purchased by the defunct Waitākere Town Council in 2006 and the original intention was to create a residence for writers at the house.
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Waitākere Ranges local council chairman Saffron Toms said the house “has an incredible history and holds a precious place in the community”.
“It was an emotional moment to finally get to the point where we could make that decision to move the house forward and help it achieve its original purpose.”
The modest 1518 sqm property, with a 160 sqm house, is now valued at $1.4 million.
Due to the passage of time, the house was now in need of “major repairs” and the Going West Trust would be responsible for this.
Once the repairs are completed, the property would transfer to the trust with a 10-year lease.
Naomi McCleary of the trust said it was a “slow and bureaucratic process” trying to get the residence open.
She said once the council approves the lease, the trust will work to put in place a new foundation for the house.
“Ten years ago the money the trust had set aside for this project would be enough, but now we have to fundraise to afford it.”
In addition to the foundations to be stabilized, McCleary said the bathroom and kitchen would need updating and painting.
RYAN ANDERSON & JASON DORDAY/STUFF
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McCleary had helped run nearby McCahon House in the early 2000s.
She has been involved in trying to get Shadbolt House off the ground since 2006, when she was Artistic Director of Waitākere Town Council.
For a time, McCleary said, AUT was interested in buying the house for a writing school, but the idea was dropped around 2010.
“We want it to be a place where writers can go and focus on their work and over time we hope to offer a wide range of residencies.”
The Shadbolt house was rented out until about three years ago, McCleary said, but has been empty since.
Sandra Coney, a local council member for the Waitākere Ranges, said the council had done everything they could to help the trust and all that was left to do was get council approval.
“I have great confidence in the confidence to deliver something quite unique with this. I can’t wait to see those doors open.
The recommendation on action taken is now with the governing body of Auckland Council for final decision.
A spokesman for Auckland Council said the governing body’s report was still being prepared, which included a review process before it could be confirmed in an agenda.