Bell tower on radar this time

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

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

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