A peg in the ground

As WBS celebrates 150 years, we reflect on some of the significant Wairarapa landmarks we’ve been involved in. This month we take a trip down memory lane to share some of those stories, which you might be familiar with, or it might provide new insights into ways we’ve impacted our wonderful region since we first began. We hope you enjoy.

While building societies have always been to help people save for their first homes, WBS has been thrilled to have supported bold new commercial ventures too. The Wairarapa is dotted with these iconic landmarks such as The White Swan, The Martinborough Hotel and Kuripuni Village which owe their existence not only to the determination of their developers, but to the legacy WBS and our predecessors have provided in backing local businesses and initiatives over the past 150 years.

At the very beginning of our story was the Permanent Investment and Local Association of Wairarapa (PILA), established in Greytown in 1873. One of the original companies that merged to form WBS, the PILA had a proud history of financing local industry. In 1883 it provided the mortgage for the Greytown Cooperative Dairy Company when it built New Zealand’s fourth dairy factory, supported the construction of the Pahiatua Gas Works, the Featherston Golf Club, and provided a large number of loans to the newly arrived Scandinavian settlers at Mauriceville in the 1870s.

With land it purchased for £50, the first PILA office was built in 1875. While the small wooden building did not survive, the replacement building constructed by local builder R.A Wakelin, still stands and is now home to the popular shoe store Saunders in Main Street, Greytown.