New role for North Taieri School

The 150-year-old North Taieri School may be barely recognisable, but the school which played a part in shaping young lives until 2003 is still affecting the lives of others.

The school building, and another house built after the school was sold, are owned by Pact Otago and used as communal housing for its Maori clients.

''It's a very pleasant place to be,'' Pact Group director of corporate services Paul Chamberlain says.

Pact Otago provides support to people recovering from mental illness and people with intellectual disabilities.

Twelve clients were housed in the two buildings on the site.

Since buying the site about seven years ago, it had provided the clients with ''the tranquillity of the rural setting''.

''I'm jealous most days when I go out to visit it,'' Mr Chamberlain said.

''They are out there and I'm stuck in an office.

''The peace and tranquillity it provides and the landscaping of the trees and the grounds are very pleasant.''

The site also had an ''extensive market garden'' which Pact's clients used to grow vegetables.

The freedom the site offered and the feel of community it fostered made it special to those who lived there, he said.

The most prominent evidence of the site's past life was the wire-netted tennis court.

''But apart from that it's pretty much been transformed.''

North Taieri School opened in 1860 in what was described by early newspapers as a ''large mud hut''.

It closed in 2003 due to a declining roll.

It was bought by a family who renovated the school building and built another house on the section.

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