Bell tower on radar this time
Wanaka’s Anglican parish has done everything by the book to complete its $75,000 restoration and roofing project.
Last time parishioners touched the St Columba’s Church bell tower and roof, in 1988, they somehow managed – despite the use of a very obvious helicopter and crane – to avoid the attention of the local councillors and the building inspector.
This time, they consulted the district plan and obtained resource consent, building consent and permission from the Historic Places Trust.
In 1988, the former St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church building was joined to St Columba’s Church on the corner of Brownston and McDougall streets.
That job brought together two of Wanaka’s earliest wooden structures.
They were built at the turn of the 20th century from locally milled timber and have a category 2 listing with the Historic Places Trust.
This month’s project has been undertaken by builder Phil Baynes, Wanaka Roofing Supplies and BTP Painting Contractors Ltd.
Parishioner Leith Brew recalled before the Presbyterian church arrived, the St Columba’s bell had several ‘‘houses’’ on the Anglican site, including an outside loo, small storage shed and a makeshift tower built from galvanised piping.
The Presbyterians’ bell tower finally gave it a proper home.
‘‘The bell tower was flown the short distance by Sir Tim Wallis, suspended under his helicopter with not a site safe officer in sight on the day of the big move,’’ Brew said.
‘‘It remained on terra firma for three or four months after the two churches were joined before Willy Rankin from Aspiring Cranes lifted it into place in the early hours of one Saturday morning.
‘‘St Columba’s bell was hauled up several days later tied to the backpack of one of the parishioners.
‘‘All this somewhat clandestine behaviour was due to the fact that the consent and plans for joining the two churches had no reference or even any mention of the St Andrew’s bell tower, and we did not wish to upset the councillors over the hill and our one building inspector in Wanaka with such trivialities,’’ he said.
Rankin will reprise his 1988 role this week and lift the bell tower back in place.
A helicopter will not be required this time.
Reverend Damon Plimmer is thrilled with the restoration.
‘‘It’s been quite a big project . . . The parish got right in behind it.’’
Parishioners raised most of the funds and $15,000 was received in grants from the Central Lakes Trust and the Otago Community Trust.
An early image of Wanaka’s St Andrew’s Church.
Wanaka builder Phil Baynes is hoping the St Columba bell can be reinstated this week. Photo: Marjorie Cook/Fairfax NZ