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Big rail day for Paekak on main trunk line

Aug 7th, 2008 | By | Category: News, Picture story, Uncategorized

AS NEW Zealand celebrated 100 years of rail this week, Paekakariki stole most of the limelight – it was the first stop on a steam-train journey re-enacting the 1908 Parliamentary Special Train.

Passengers, including eight MPs, were hosted by community groups and mayor Jenny Rowan as the train stopped for an hour for the opening of the station’s restored signal box.

About 300 people crowded the platform to witness the steam train arriving with Parliamentarians, local government officials, Ontrack guests and rail enthusiasts on board.

Ms Rowan noted the train would also stop at Waikanae to acknowledge the Parata family for gifting seven kilometres of their land in 1884 for the development of rail.

Paekakariki’s Signal Box is a Category 1 heritage building and is one of only three such boxes remaining in New Zealand.

The building has been restored over the past two years by the Paekakariki Precinct Station Trust, the Historic Places Trust and the Kapiti District Council.

Labour MP for Mana, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, says many hundreds of hours have gone into the restoration.

“It is exciting to be here and to have so many people gathered here on the platform celebrating the rich heritage of our railways and of Paekakariki – a true railway town,” she said.

The Parliamentary Special 100 years ago steamed up the North Island with a group of 200 celebrities, including 44 MPs, to Auckland to meet the United States Navy’s visiting Great White Fleet.

This week’s trip to re-enact the 1908 event was organised by Ontrack.

TOP PICTURE: Judith Dale (left) and Sylvia Bagnall have their photo taken in front of the steam locomotive after it arrived at Paekakariki on its historic re-enactment.

ABOVE: MP Winnie Laban (left) and Kapiti Coast Mayor Jenny Rowan open the restored signal box at Paekakariki station.

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